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Behavior

Euthanizing Aggressive Dogs: Sometimes It's the Best Choice
August 12, 2013 (published) | June 30, 2014 (revised)


Photo by Phyllis DeGioia
Dodger
When my dog lunged at my face, I fell down the stairs.

I saw him watch me come up the stairs at 12:30 a.m. He seemed fine, but a moment later he went for my face. I pulled back and fell down half a flight of steep stairs. My head ended up in the bottom level of an open-sided end table. Had I hit my head on the top I could have broken my neck and become a quadriplegic like my mother had been.

Or died.

The vet who euthanized him said I looked like I'd been in a bar fight. I cried on her shoulder.

"If he were healthy, you wouldn't be here this morning," she said, and I knew she was right. I have no doubt that ending his life was the right thing to do. This choice - and it didn't feel like a choice, but something I had to do - is not one everyone would make, I know. However, we would all be safer if more people euthanized dogs whose behavior cannot be improved after professional assistance.

I had been working with Dodger for months on his aggression. Three months before that fateful night, my 42-pound, 9-year-old English setter had bitten me three times in two seconds; he left six wounds on my forearm under a sweatshirt after I petted him on his back. I was stunned, but I knew what to do.

He had a thorough medical work up, and went on the anti-anxiety medication clomipramine after no physical cause for his behavior change was found. I called in a certified trainer, a woman highly experienced in dog aggression. When she arrived, she said, "I cannot guarantee he won't bite again."

Dodger seemed to be getting better and although he'd snapped at me a few times he hadn't broken skin. I thought his bite inhibition was back, and that as long as I didn't startle him, it would be okay.

I was utterly wrong.

Being attacked by someone you love is a visceral slam to your gut. For a short while, rational thought is gone. It happens so quickly. Your body shakes, and your heart pounds as the instinctive fight-or-flight response is set off. I cried that night as I iced my face, wishing I could ice half of my body. Being bitten by my own dog was a traumatizing event, a betrayal of trust by a beloved canine who’d always slept on my bed.

Dodger had been anxious enough when he arrived five years ago to wear down a path in the back yard within three days. He'd always been snappy when startled. Exercise was never lacking, as we frequently went to fenced, off-leash dog parks. However, last winter I noticed he was much more anxious than he used to be.

When I started talking to people about him, I realized that many friends have euthanized aggressive dogs, including one who owns a dog training school – and so did one of the training school’s co-owners. Veterinarians too: Years ago, Dr. Teri Oursler brought home a 3-year-old rescued beagle. Every time he had gotten in his former owner's way, she kicked him, and then she kicked him when she shoved him into the kennel. Dr. Oursler consulted with veterinary behaviorists who told her she could not cure Sherman, and that all she could do was improve his behavior and try not to put him in any situation where he could cause harm. Three months later, Sherman attacked her 8-year-old son's foot, leaving eight puncture wounds. It was his fourth bite and by far the most aggressive and unprovoked. Sherman was euthanized.

Eight years later, Dr. Oursler still struggles with the guilt of putting Sherman's needs above the safety of her children.

"I will never forget the sounds of his attack and my child screaming," she said. "He taught me that some animals are wired wrong and cannot be fixed, just like some people. Think of Ted Bundy. Sherman taught me that euthanasia of a severely anxious animal is relief of suffering as much as euthanasia for a physical problem is relief of suffering. He taught me that euthanasia for a behavior problem relieves human suffering as much as animal suffering."

Some aggressive dogs can be helped by a good trainer or veterinary behaviorist, and that is where people should start to work with the dog; getting professional help can make the needed difference. But I now believe strongly that some dogs - like Dodger - aren't wired correctly, and no amount of training or medication can fix broken wiring.

From where I'm sitting, too many people make excuses for repeat offenders, no matter if the cause is medical or otherwise, rather than actually addressing the problem even if it’s escalating. They wait until a disaster transpires. Sometimes they don’t even realize that’s what they’re doing.

What I realized later, through my grief, was that I'd been walking on egg shells around him and that relief was a big part of my emotional response. Mostly it was sadness. In the first few days anger was a large part of it: That he suffered from anxiety, because I could have broken my neck, because I will never again see his stunningly graceful run.

I struggle with his unhappiness despite all my efforts, and I wonder when or if that will ever end. A rip in my soul feels like it might never heal.

In my sadness I turned to Dr. Michele Gaspar, both a veterinarian and human therapist.

"There are some dogs who are mentally ill, either due to genetics, trauma or their development," she said. "I appreciate the effort that people put into understanding them, but some of these dogs just never are normal. I don't think meds would have helped Dodger. Escalating behavior is not good in any species. Dogs should be mentally strong enough not to startle in a home environment."

Dr. Gaspar said she is increasingly intolerant of dogs and cats with behavioral issues, but it seems to her that as a society we try to overcome these issues in pets more than we do with people.

At least I have the comfort that he will never get worse. He won't ever bite anyone else, simply because he can’t. Children can be allowed in my house again, and I won't ever be sued because Dodger hurt someone. Nor will he get turned away by my veterinary clinic because he bites the staff. These are the things I tell myself when I’m trying to feel better. They are not small comforts.

The frightening statistics for dog bites account for a lot of fear and hateful feelings about dogs. Bitten children, the most common victims, often grow up to be afraid of dogs. Bites affect people who work with dogs: boarding kennel operators and pet-sitters, trainers, rescue group volunteers, and veterinary staff. Veterinarians and veterinary technicians receive many of those bites, affecting how they feel about their profession and future clients.

Dr. Beth Ruby discussed her reaction to an aggressive patient on a message board of the Veterinary Information Network:

“In all the years I have worked in a veterinary clinic I have never been bitten in the face (before today). It created a fear I don't think I have ever dealt with. The complete lack of warning from the dog has left me very insecure. I have been bitten and scratched a lot in the last 25 years, but never have I felt so small and vulnerable as I did today. Seeing those teeth coming at your face and having absolutely no control creates an emotional experience that you can't imagine or describe.”

You can’t imagine or describe it, but if you’d lived it, her words ring true.

That day nearly three years ago changed the way Dr. Ruby practices. She has become more cautious during exams. She keeps her head and face at a safer distance, only approaches a dog from the side where she has plenty of opportunity to back off quickly, and uses muzzles more often.

"I am definitely jumpier than I used to be, which can be embarrassing," she said.

What I have never understood, even before Dodger came into my life, was how people could keep dogs who bit people or other animals repeatedly and just live with it. That’s an unacceptable risk. While owners may accept it for themselves, it is immoral for them to accept it for anyone else. I also believe it is wrong to turn the dog over to a shelter or rescue, and even worse not to disclose the truth about aggressive behavior. There’s enough bad stuff in the world that people cannot control; sending along a dog who will hurt someone is a moral failing.

Imagine what you would feel after your aggressive dog mauled a toddler’s face. Imagine what you would feel if a stranger’s dog attacked you or your child. Wouldn’t you wonder, forever, why the dog’s owner didn’t do something about the dog’s escalating behavior when they could have?

I don’t have to wonder about that any more. As I continue to sort through and address my feelings about Dodger, what I could have done and what I finally did, I am secure in knowing that ending his life was the right thing to do.

“Death is the ultimate loss but not the ultimate harm," said Dr. Gaspar. I agree.

UPDATE

It's been exactly one year since I euthanized Dodger, which was one of the worst episodes of my life. I'm thankful to everyone who has written. The comments from readers have been enormously helpful and are full of solace. (We didn't publish the handful that essentially said, "How dare you murder that dog, you piece of &%#!," as they violated our language policy, although they never bothered me.) I've had lengthy back channel conversations with several commenters. All too often, though, I don't answer individual comments because they slice into my sorrow and keep it fresh; I can't answer for the sake of my own mental health. My pain has eased greatly, but it is still nearby, as though all that's needed to unleash it is to open a cabinet.

This subject is filled with angst and guilt, not to mention shame at a perceived inability to "train" the aggression out of a beloved dog. Some of our solutions involved ending the life of someone we love with all our heart in order to protect others and ourselves. I cringe every time I read about another mauling by a dog, and I wonder if the owners of those maulers experience the massive guilt and regret that I would. I could not live with myself if my dog hurt someone that way.

Thankfully, I never felt guilty about euthanzing my boy, and did not regret my choice; this is not the case for everyone. Then and now, I didn't feel as though it was a choice; it felt like something I had to do. Because of his protectiveness of that stairwell landing, he would have lunged at me again, and the kind of luck I had walking away from that fall is not going to happen twice. I still don't understand how I walked away the first time, landing crumpled up and passed out inside an end table with a painful and swollen body.

The physical scars are fading, and some of the emotional ones are too, but it takes longer than we think it will. Whenever I see someone with an English setter, I stop and ask if I can pet it. Sometimes I cry. It's embarrassing, but so what? We must keep our hearts and souls intact.

I still cry remembering Dodger's head resting on my knee and looking deeply into my eyes: connecting, bonding, trusting. It's the behavior of his I miss the most, although I deeply loved his silly sense of humor. Needless to say, I never miss being afraid of him, and I recall well why I chose to euthanize him. But that doesn't mean I can't take pleasure in remembering the aspects that made me happy: the way he'd greet visitors with a toy; the gentle way he took treats; the games he loved to initiate; his incredibly graceful and swift running; his look of joy and anticipation on his way to the dog park. Enough grains have shifted in my sand clock that these memories are the ones surfacing more often, rather than the other ones. Time is a good healer, and I am thankful beyond measure for that.

422 Comments

Minnesota Mary 
March 3, 2015

I've been fostering dogs for a rescue for eight years and have become the go-to home for aggressive or fearful dogs.  I tend to be successful with them with predictable routine, gentle leadership and firm boundaries.  Until last year.  A dog came into my life and exhibited human aggression immediately.  He went on to attack my dogs with no provocation - and with no warning.  I'm adept at reading dog language and interpreting a warning but this one would be fine for two months, then attack in a flash.  He growled at other people but never me.  After I gave him every chance for nearly a year, the rescue and I decided to put him to sleep just after Christmas 2014.  It was a sad, very sad day but I was able to give him some individual time with me, which he craved.  In the end he went peacefully but I was overcome with guilt.  After reading your post, I now realize that he had problems that I just could not fix and that, like had he had a physical disability, he was suffering.  It was a kindness to give him 11 months of stable routine and gentle leadership.  He was happy most of the time.  Thank you for baring your pain and helping others through theirs.


Abby 
March 2, 2015

I am reminded of a quote from Rose Kennedy.  "After a storm, the birds still sing." It sounds like you are able to hear the birds sing more and more.


Amy 
February 28, 2015

I rescued a shelter dog one year ago. She was  2 yr old at the time and a  lab/boxer mix.  She was not house trained at all and had separation anxiety. She has come a really long way. She listens well to commands and looks like the perfect dog.   She has never been aggressive with the family. No food aggression or issues with our other dog either. The problem is that she nips at the heels and knees of people she doesn't know when they come up to the house.  After a short time she was used to the usual neighborhood kids and adults and has been fine with them (had them give her treats).   It was a fear aggression. One new friend she lunged at her knee, retreated, and then peed on the floor cowering. Shortly after she was fine and fine with that friend the next time. She's fine at the vet. She remembered my mom after 6 months and was cuddly with her on a recent visit.  She did nip hard enough to leave a bruise when a delivery guy surprised us on the porch and hurriedly left-looking like running away (he was acting weird, but nice enough luckily about the dog).  That was all in the first 5 months we had her. I thought she had over all gotten over that whole behavior.     BUT, just recently, a new friend with a 3 year old came in the yard. The dog followed them up sort of nipping at the mom's heels. We stood on the porch talking and the dogs both came in and then went out (door open) and I thought were just saying hello. The next thing we know my problem dog looks like she's nipping at the kids face! A mark but no blood. She did a low scared growl after I pulled her away.   She's so great otherwise, but the thought of her hurting a child has be sick.  If we had no visitors or new people we'd seemingly never had a problem.   I can set the under ground fence to just the back yard and keep her kenneled when people come....but I keep wondering if I am being naive.   She has come so incredibly far in the last year that I don't want to discount her ability to keep improving and relax.  I also don't want to put kids at risk.  I did have a trainer here after we'd had her 3-4 months to help with house training issues.  I'm debating going to a behaviorist, but it's a huge expense and an hour away.  I just don't know what to do.  The dog has seen the vet often and doesn't seem to have any issues she can see. She's extremely cooperative at the vet.


Sad Owner 
February 28, 2015

Thank you so much for this essay/article/blog, and thank you to everyone who has commented.  My husband and I struggled for a year with a rescue who had been abused from puppyhood, and we gave him chance after loving chance, even after he repeatedly nipped, bit, attacked, growled, and/or snarled at us, destroying some of our property along the way and harassing our older dog. Although he was a small dog (Jack Russell/beagle mix), it took 3 people at the vet's and groomer's to do anything for his own benefit-- trim nails, shots, etc. And even then, even muzzled, we could hear his hysterical crying. A nightmare for all. Of course, he wasn't all bad-- he was playful, at times very affectionate, we could see that he loved us-- but we didn't want to be owned by him. We realized, after he attacked me last night for daring to move on our own bed (where he'd been sleeping at my feet-- oh, and he drew blood on my husband's hand last week, almost forgot) we had to live our lives revolving around and continually trying to outsmart, wheedle, cajole, etc. a dog who wouldn't obey (and even treats didn't appeal to him, he had a mind of his own). We got him when he was probably 6-7 months old, and I think the abuse he suffered beforehand shaped his brain patterns and behaviors. I guess, when the vet we saw 6 months ago offered to euthanize him, we should have taken him up on it before we'd gotten so attached. And yet the guilt and grief I feel is confusingly mixed with relief and the knowledge we tried-- we did-- and we (including our older dog) deserve peace and safety in our own home. Almost every time he got out of control, it was like he would feel guilty afterwards, cowering and going submissive as if he realized he'd gone off the deep end again. We tried to firmly (but not violently or loudly) correct him, and reward docile, respectful and good behavior, but it just got tiring when he'd find new ways to be a handful. And our vet so long ago was right-- the pound is full of good pets who just want to love and be loved, and they're wired to respect owners in return for the respect and care the owners give them. He said he had to put down dozens of these kinds of animals each week, and it's a shame, to him, that so many easy, good, loving and well-wired pets lose their lives while well-intentioned pet owners struggle with pets who don't seem to want to cooperate in any way, shape or form despite the owners' best efforts. We're giving ourselves time to grieve, and trying to reassure that this dog (our of four that we've owned) was a one-off. We'll adopt again, but we'll be aware of questions we should have asked before, and we'll definitely be going through a humane society or other "official" place. Thanks again for everyone who contributed to this forum, which has helped us (and ultimately, our poor dog) come to peace.


Kari 
February 26, 2015

I just want to thank you so much for this article.  I adopted my dog from the shelter over 7 years ago.  He has always done crazy things (jump out windows, eat walls, etc.) but in the last couple years he has snapped at my father in law, my husband and my teenage son.  We knew he was not trustworthy but kept a gate up to separate him from our ten-month old twins.  Last night, the dog suddenly lunged at one of the babies.  Thank goodness the gate was there and blocked him.  I've made an appt for Saturday to put him down and, even though I know it is necessary, my heart is breaking.  I'm so happy to read this article to help me know for sure I shouldn't give him another chance.  The next one could be tragic.  I wish peace to all of you and please send healing thoughts my way.  I for sure need them to handle this.


Janice 
February 24, 2015

It's been nearly three months since I have had to put my furbaby Lexi down. I still visit this site every so often for comfort. It's a painful memory and reading all these stories helps me validate what I had to do because I still doubt myself about whether I was fair to her by letting her go. I still feel awful. We have since adopted a rescue pup who is wonderful in every way but sometimes I find myself thinking WHY couldn't Lexi be like our new pup is? I feel so guilty yet as if I betrayed her. I wish so bad she could have been different. But to all you folks going thru this same thing I hope you find peace with your decision. It's a tough road. The vets on this site were wonderful thru my whole ordeal. Just want to say thank you once again.


Phyllis DeGioia 
February 24, 2015

We are all so sorry for your loss, and understand your grief all too well. I'm glad your daughter wasn't hurt more than she was, and I'm sorry that everyone in your family is grieving. My heart is with you. It takes a long time to heal, but it does.


Lynn 
February 23, 2015

I was getting ready to go to the grocery store and I told my kids (age 2 and 4) to put their shoes and socks on. They both ran towards the front door to get their belongings. I followed closely behind. Realizing my daughter had just gone up the stairs, I called for her to come back down. My son, trying to help, started walking up the stairs calling out to his sister to "come back down, it's time to go to the store". I was just thinking about how cute it was that he was going to get his sister, when I heard the growl. I recognized the growl, I had heard it so many times before.  It was the growl that cried out, "help me, I'm scared".  I yelled "No" as I ran up the stairs just in time to see my daughter fall backwards. My daughter had reached out with both hands to pet the dog on her head and she had bit her face with enough force to knock her down. I immediately ran and picked her up and we rushed to the ER. Luckily, the bite was primarily on her cheek and missed her nose, lips and eyes, but it was a serious injury and she required stitches.  We were all devastated that our dog would inflict such an injury on a little kid without even being provoked. I felt like I had failed them both since I was unable to protect my child from my dog and my dog from my child. Later that day my husband brought the dog to the vet and they agreed that euthanasia was the best choice because she was a "dangerous dog", so rescues would not take her and if we surrendered her to a shelter they would quarantine her for 10 days and then kill her because of her history of biting (she had previously bit on two separate occasions). We did not feel comfortable even attempting to re-home her, due to her fear, anxiety, and aggressive tendencies.  So, with tears in our eyes, we said goodbye to our first baby.  She really was the sweetest dog towards my husband and I and we are so happy that we were able to spend almost 8 years with her. We are all truly heartbroken over losing her.  Even my daughter was running around the house tonight saying, "Doggie, where are you?".  I told them that she went to a new home where she gets to run free and chase tennis balls all day and night, which was her favorite thing to do.


Michele Gaspar, DVM 
February 23, 2015

Hi, Andrea, A few thoughts for you on this situation.  First and foremost, you must keep everyone in the family safe.  Your son, of course, needs to be protected and your boyfriend MUST NOT intervene with his hands, feet or other parts of his body, when the dogs are fighting.  He risks getting injured in a most terrible way.  If there is food aggression, then in the very short-term, you need to separate the dogs at meal times (separate rooms)  and not allow them to interact until each is done with her food.  If you have not taken the dogs to your veterinarian for a complete examination, that needs to be done as well.  Your veterinarian can direct you to the nearest veterinary behaviorist, or you can locate one by searching www.dacvb.org  If a veterinary behaviorist is not close by, then your veterinarian can make additional recommendations for you.  I would have your dogs evaluated without delay.  I want to encourage you to work as quickly as possible to find appropriate individuals who can assess both dogs.  It is obvious that you are very concerned about your little boy and want to  determine an underlying cause and find a solution to this sudden change in the dogs' behavior, if at all possible.


Andrea 
February 23, 2015

I need help and advice from anyone out there. I'm a new mom of my 5 month old son and that is why I need to make a change. We have a mother and daughter pit bull duo and in the last few months, the daughter pit bull has been getting extremely aggressive around food. Whether it's her food our ours. She has attacked her mom  really bad twice in the last 2 weeks and each fight gets worse and each fight is harder to for my boyfriend to break up. It just seems really stupid for me to keep an aggressive dog around my baby, even though I really do not believe she would ever harm him. I guess I know what I need to do tonight, I just need the encouragement to do so. I would never be able to live another day if something worse happened. She has been the best dog in the world, but she is just different lately. Something is off. I love her dearly. Please help!


Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM 
February 23, 2015

Dear Matt, I feel that with a large breed dog such as Wyatt, you have far less leeway in trying behavioral modification than with a smaller dog.  Wyatt's size just makes the potential for an attack so much more dangerous -- lethal even. It sounds to me as though you have tried to do your best by him and by those around him, but this sounds like a very delicate balance and it doesn't seem to be contributing to anyone's quality of life, his included. Your legal risk with a known aggressive dog is also huge; it sounds like you know the best course of action for all of you.  I'm so sorry you're faced with this heartbreaking situation, and I wish you all of the best.


Matt 
February 22, 2015

Thank you for this article. This has been the hardest decision of my life and I need someone to tell me that I am making the right decision.  We adopted Wyatt, a cane corso, 3 years ago and he has multiple incidents over the years. He has bitten 2 people, lunged at several people faces (including my fiance who now fears him), bitten our other dog several times and most recently attacked my father's 10 week old lab puppy. He also has sleep startle aggression, which he attacks our other dog in the middle of the night. We have worked with a trainer for an extended period of time and Wyatt continues to show signs of unprovoked aggression.  I feel as though I am giving up on him and I have failed with his training. As of right now I am 99% sure that we are going to put him down. We feel that it is unfair to Wyatt to keep him constantly in his kennel (while we are at work and every night) and to have him wear a muzzle while in the house because of the occasional growling at my fiance.  We feel that it would irresponsible to give him to another person knowing his history. We know that our safety and the safety of other that interact with him is very important and we are lucky that he hasn't hurt someone worse than he has or ended the life of a puppy.  Given everything that I have listed above I still question my decision because 98% of the time he is the best dog in world and I love him so much.  I just need some reassurance that I am doing the right thing. I need to know that death for him will be a blessing because he won't be anxious or fearful anymore.  If anyone has any input it would be greatly appreciated. I feel as though I know what needs to be done but it's so hard to give up something you love.


Finnmar 
February 19, 2015

Thank you for this article. This is exactly what I needed...we have made the painful decision to put our 10 yr old Great Dane down. We rescued him 7 yrs ago and worked very hard to rehabilitate him. He's had some health issues as of late but has started regressing behavior wise as well. Then after years of no incident and without warning he snapped at our 1 yr old...that sealed it. He is old for his breed but I still feel impossibly guilty and heartbroken. I know it's the right thing but so painful...our little guy users only one word consistently and that is our dogs name.


Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM 
February 17, 2015

Hi Jayda, If you haven't already, I'd recommend talking with your veterinarian about Tia.  They may be able to help rule out any medical causes for her aggression and recommend a plan.


Laura 
February 15, 2015

I am so sad to hear these stories.  First off, I am sorry for your collective losses. A dog (pet) is a member of a family.  Right now I am dealing with my male Soft -Coated Wheaten Terrier, age 6, nearly 7.  He has been very aggressive toward my husband's (we got married 2 years ago) English Cocker Spaniel (4 yo, male).  It seems he attacked him without warning and it's getting worse.  A few months ago I tried to break them up and was bitten very hard on the leg.  I have 3 deep puncture scars now. I understand that shock and dismay--and feeling of betrayal.  I bought Dooley from a rep. breeder, I trained him well and have had many dogs throughout my life.  He is mostly obedient, sweet, and affectionate toward the family.  Since our move into my husband's house, he is a different dog.  This is breaking my heart...taking him to our vet tomorrow. He attacked the Spaniel again tonight and I had to use the legs of a kitchen chair like a lion tamer to get him off the dog.


Jayda 
February 14, 2015

Thank you for this article.. needing some advice / support with my moms Chihuahua Tia. Tia is 6 years old, and has always been 'snappy' but it's escalated. She does not do well with change at all.  4 years ago we got another Chihuahua puppy, and she tried to kill him whenever she saw him. It wasn't until he got larger that she accepted him.. they are okay together now. Now fast forward to last year, we get an Akita puppy and Tia hates her! She tolerated her as a puppy. And as she got larger started snapping at her more. Now, she is AWFUL! She snarls, barks, snaps if the Akita tries to even come in the same room as her! We think the increased aggression has sprouted from the changes in our home. My sister, her boyfriend, and her son have moved in (In fact, I've been feeling a little aggressive over these changes as well lol) In all seriousness, she has never done well with change. She has bitten everyone in the house. Me, my dad, my mom, etc. EVERYONE! And just today, she bit my grandmother in the face who she loves more than anyone in the world! We have NO idea what to do! We live in a very small town, with the closest trainer being 2 hours away for huge bucks that we can't afford right now. Could this be anxiety? Should we get her on meds? Can this be fixed? Thank you


Vicky de Lacy 
February 12, 2015

I am so glad you wrote this article. The same thing just happened to me and my dog, Radar. He was a rescue dog(a golden cocker spaniel) and he also had biting issues. At the same time he was the funniest, most loving and playful dog in the world. He was my best friend and I adored him for the 4 years I had him. But having bit me 3 times and other members of the family the crunch came when he bit me in the eye 2 weeks ago. I was cuddling him and he suddenly bit my eye. I nearly lost it. So I had him put down even though I adored him to bits. Guilt, sadness and despair are getting the better of me. Your article has helped me.


Bria 
February 11, 2015

Lydia, It is a very difficult choice to make. And I myself know where you are coming from. Deep down you know what is best but you are fighting with that voice in your head that tells you it wont happen again or I am making to much of it. If you are scared of your dog that is a red flag right there. No-one should have to live in fear of their furry baby. If you need more input I would ask your vet or local behavior animal specialist on their view. I hope that whatever decision you make you know that none of this is your fault.


Bria 
February 9, 2015

I posted before on my Cupid, who I put down almost a month ago. Today we lost the family dog (my moms)to cancer. He was almost 9 and was sick for a week and poof over night threw up blood wasn't walking and kept drinking but would throw up. get him to the vet and he says he very dehydrated, cold and breathing swallow. Decided he was in pain and best let him go. It took seconds he was so sick and hurting. At least I know Cupid and Buddy are together again. I'm crushed and broken all over again. Please give me strength!!


Lydia Quartermane 
February 9, 2015

I am in this situation now.  My Boston Terrier has bitten us numerous times and went after a women in the park just yesterday.  Yes, he was leashed when this happened.  He has broken skin and this is a very large Boston, 39 lbs. and very strong!  I have had him since he was a puppy (8 weeks).  My heart is broken over this, especially when he is happy and playing and sweet. I ask myself why he goes into attack mode. He has been spoiled rotten from day one.  Affection, toys, treats, happy home.  I have to reconcile myself to facing the fact that I can't have a dog that I fear.  Nor can I adopt him out for fear he will attack his new owners, guests in their homes, etc. Very sad.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
February 5, 2015

Katya, My suggestion is that you find a veterinary behaviorist, not a trainer. Most aggression is rooted in anxiety, so it is important to find someone who can diagnose and treat the underlying anxiety with positive reinforcement, not punishment. http://www.dacvb.org/ Some information about training aggressive dogs: http://www.vin.com/vetzinsight/default.aspx?pid=756&catId=5861&Id=6503590 A veterinary behaviorist can help you sort out what is the best thing for you, your dog and your lifestyle.  Regardless of what is done, making sure that people and animals are safe around your dog is important.  The anguish you would suffer if he badly hurt someone or their animal is huge and not to be discounted!


Katya Coles 
February 5, 2015

Hi I don't know if you can give me any advice but I have a pit\collie mix and he is very aggressive. He has not actually bitten anyone but he has "attacked" another dog.(ran up to him and was biting his ankles and ears) and it was scary. I have not put him in the position to bite other people but his aggression comes at random times. I was with my friend and her dog (the one dog he gets along with) for almost 2 hours..we walked them and then took a ride in the car. As my friend was getting out my dog Bentley tried to attack her..he was snapping and growling. He had no reason for doing this. I have had him since he was 8 weeks Old and I know that I could have done better training him but I didn't. He has really bad separation anxiety and will lash out at strangers and other dogs. When I grab his collar to go to his bed when people come over he snarls at me. I have tried to get him more exercise and changed his diet and spent more time with him. Trainers are so expensive but I am going to get a vet opinion. He also tries to snap at my boyfriend when he leaves for work in the morning. Please help I don't know what to do. some people have told me that euthanizing him would be the best way because no one will adopt him at 2 years old with this aggression. I don't even know how he would begin to go to someone who wasn't me. Thanks for any advice!


Bria 
February 5, 2015

Melissa, Thank you for the kind words and understanding. Deep down I know it was best and that I could not rehome her because of her unpredictable actions. She bit us numerous times, none bleed however they tore skin. And she started to attack my moms dog who she was raised with. I know my vet was right telling me to do what I did and that rehoming her was not an option. Still breaks my heart knowing how sweet she could be, if you watched her body language. But then why should one have to read their dog in order to love her. I will for sure email you and thank you for the wonderful idea, about writing a letter.


Melissa 
February 4, 2015

Bria, I'm so sorry you still feel so much guilt. Somehow I manage to smile when I think of Buster Brown, who was our two year old pit mix we put down last week. His behavior had been escalating for a while, and although we tried behavior mod and many mgmt strategies, in the back of my mind I knew euthanasia was the most responsible and humane thing to do after biting 4 people, one of which was my roommate in the face, and also our other dog, Kane in the eye. I think it's SO important to remember the good stuff, but don't forget the reason(s) why we were forced to make this decision. As Janine said, with her story, would you rather wonder every day if your Cupid had a good home, wasn't getting mistreated, or worse, hurting someone else? I know it's hard, but something that helped me was writing a letter to Buster Brown, telling him why I did what I did and recapping all of our amazing memories together. It sounds cheesy, but it may help with some closure. Please feel free to e-mail me at HaysMelissa08@gmail.com and we can talk some more. Strength to all of you.


Bria 
February 4, 2015

Janine, Thank you for that. I still wish I could go back in time and fix her. But deep down I know only god could have done so. I know she felt my love for her and I hope that she is at peace now. It still pulls at my heart strings thinking of her and seeing her pictures. My son is now scared that if we get another dog it well turn on him again. I mean what kid goes to pet and love there dog where the dog then growls and lunges at you? I tell him she was sick or she would not have turned on us the people that love her. I hope in time him and I can both heal. She will however be in my heart forever.


Kathy 
February 4, 2015

My 7 year old Golden bit my 10 month old granddaughter on the hand yesterday breaking the skin.  He had one of her toys and my daughter who was babysitting didn't realize it.  The baby tried to grab it and he bit her in pretty deeply.  He has been jealous of her since she became more mobile. we have been very careful to give him extra love and attention when she was over. I'm planning on putting him down asap.  It stinks but he knew what he was doing.  He never would have done that to an adult.


Janine 
February 3, 2015

Hi Bria, You surely did the right thing.  And Cupid absolutely did not know you were taking her life.  Had she known, she would have exhibited terror, and likely aggression (what dog wouldn't?), and done everything in her power to escape. Every creature will do whatever it can to avoid death when she feels her life is in danger. It's so important to REALISTICALLY imagine her perspective.  I know it's very difficult to do that when we feel such guilt and grief.  But they definitely think it's a routine visit to the vet. They certainly detect our sadness and anxiety, but they have no idea why we're feeling that.  They don't know what our plans are; they have no sense of betrayal, and they don't blame us at all---any more than when we euthanize to end their suffering.  Dogs are very good at going to sleep :) and that's all that happens for them.  For our sake and theirs, we have to understand that everything we think, experience and feel about putting them down is completely different from their experience.  Our head and theirs are separate universes!


Bria 
February 3, 2015

Janine, That is really good advice, as I wonder what she thought. If she knew I was doing this, if she knew I took her life. I guess I want someone to tell me I did the right thing: and the vet, and friends and family who saw it all say it was necessary. However I think it was a horrible event. I asked the vet that morning when I brought her in are we sure this is what is best. And she looked at me and goes yes unfortunately it is, for the safety of others. My dog then growled at her. Still feel grief daily about my choice.


Janine 
February 2, 2015

I think a super-important factor is largely overlooked by writer and commenters alike:  A good death is not a disservice to the animal!  NOTHING is taken from him.  He simply goes to sleep.  The remainder of his natural life can only be "taken" from him if he's aware that it's being foreshortened.  He's not aware of that!  He may not enjoy that last trip to the vet, but that and the needle are nothing he hasn't experienced before.  He gets very sleepy...and then he's in the same state as we all were before birth and will be after we, too, are gone. I think it's very important to think hard about the experience FROM THE DOG'S PERSPECTIVE. We survivors are the only ones who suffer.  We miss our beloved terribly. We feel horrific guilt.   Our plans and hopes are irretrievably altered. But the dog knows nothing, suffers nothing, and has not been mistreated in any way. We took in a dumped puppy who turned out to be half-Pit.  He became aggressive toward (and injured) our other dogs, who were too old/docile to defend themselves.  We live in the South and made every effort to train him and to find him a home.  Neither succeeded.  After he bit our 12 y.o. dog in the eye, we took him in to be euthanized.  He was so personable and in such glowing health that the vet refused, but said he could place him that night if we'd surrender him.  We did, but we've always worried about whether he did in fact find a good home, given the rampant cruelty and mistreatment of dogs (esp. Pits) in our area. In retrospect, we wonder if we would have been more comfortable--and he would have been better off---had he been euthanized.


Bria 
February 2, 2015

Nicole, Alana and Mellisa: I too feel guilt daily and still feel I failed my sweet puppy Cupid. I feel I should of tried harder and spent more on her BUT then I come back to realize she was unpredictable and mentally ill. I still don't want to believe it nor can I except it. I love her so much, and cry daily. I more then willing to exchange information to talk more, as I need to heal its been 2 weeks and the pain feels like day 1! We ALL have to stay strong, which is way easier said then done!


Nicole 
January 31, 2015

A few weeks ago I posted my story about my Bella who I had to put down. I come to this site for reassurance every now and then. I have been feeling a lot of guilt and ashamed and I have been feeling like I failed her. reading all these comments makes me feel better that I am not alone. this site helps ease my pain knowing I have people to relate to. Everyone on this site is very strong for making such a hard decision.


Alana 
January 30, 2015

It's been more then a year since I put my beloved Shikira to sleep, and I still feel guilt every single day for what I did. She never attacked a person, but she killed a goat, 10 chickens, ducks, attacked violently a cat, and a possum... She would just rip them up... She would then put her head on my lap with these big doe eyes like butter would not melt in her mouth and we would sit and watch tv together... I made excuses.., they where all animals, right? Prey... But she was raised with the cat she attacked, and she ripped open a door to get to him. We where lucky we where standing near by or Cid would have been killed. She would go right for the throat, not mucking around... She hurt Cid pretty badly but he was lucky... We did all these training methods, talked to vets and trainers... She always loved me. Always. But occasionally she would growl at other people and I worried she would one day move from attacking other animals to attacking them... Making excuses for her cost other animals there lives... But even now I deeply deeply regret my choice.


Melissa 
January 30, 2015

Brian, or anyone else who is in the grieving process coming to the site looking  for reassurance or support - are you interested in exchanging e-mail addresses so we can have a more active conversation?


Bria 
January 28, 2015

Just wanted to thank you for posting my story, helps to read it. Makes me realize I had to do what I did for the well being of my son, family and friends. She was mentally ill, and if my Cupid knew what she was doing I believe she wouldn't of. I was her mom, our bond was so deep. She was my part of my world for awhile and I will cherish those memories. I wish she could have been helped, or something that we did to help her would of snapped her out of it. But when you cant hug your child because she will attack him and bite and pierce anything she can that's wrong. Now she was loving and sweet and there for me...if it was just us BUT I had my son and like the vet said one wrong bit or one attack and no one to jump in he could of been seriously injured. And for us to live how we where, walking on eggshells and having to cage her, and get bitten daily or deal with attacks are wrong. I still fight with my decision daily, was I making to much of it, was I doing what was right. But the videos don't lie. I have to believe she loved us the best she could and I did the right thing, to protect my family. Having to lock her in my room so she doesn't attack my son at night is sooo wrong! Thank you for listening and helping me cope with this. ( My original story was posted 1-27-15) Side note: The mother did have some food aggression BUT still no reason for my furry baby' actions. Love you forever my CUPID.


Melissa 
January 27, 2015

I am so sorry to hear everyone's stories who ended in losing their beloved animal. I know how hard it is to lose a family member (bc that's what they are). This week my husband and I are putting down our two year old dog. In the 14 months since we adopted him he has turned into a different dog. It was slow at first, but now 4 people later, and after biting our other dog, he has now started to go after my husband and I. We have gone through two highly regarded behaviorists, and we feel this is the best decision for Buster and for our well being, but god damn, it's so hard to put down a two year old dog. But then I think of those eyes, and what they used to look like, and what they look like now, and it's sad and frightening. I afraid for myself, but mostly for my new baby (he bit all of these people before the baby came though)..here I go, explaining myself and internally making excuses for him. It's so hard to feel like you're doing the right thing when your heart gets in the way. But I keep on reminding myself what my behaviorist said, which is although he's not physically sick, he's mentally sick, and you need to be able to trust him in your home, and we are well past that point. My thoughts are with all of you through these hard times, ultimately, go with your gut. If you think your dog deserves more work, seek a second opinion, but don't spare your dog for your own heart's sake. It's just not worth the risk in the long run. Much love to all of you and please send your strength through this hard time. Thank you.


Bria 
January 27, 2015

I am happy I found this site. I recently put my furry baby to sleep. She was a poodle-terrier we think and 15 months old only. When we got her things were great our first puppy for my son and I. And she bonded with him first sleeping in his room. She was smart and easy to train to use a puppy pad, and sit and stay ect. Then at 8 months things began to change. we noticed she became food aggressive, and right away called vet and behavioralist. They gave wonderful tips and we used them and things began to calm down. Will then she became aggressive over me, noone could come by me on the couch, noone could enter my room. My 10 yr old son was terrorized by Cupid (the dog) he would try to come in my room and she would growl and lunge at him. All of this was unprovoked. We then went back vet and saw their behavorlist and got more tips, kennel, show dominance, control everything for her. But nothing worked she became worse and started snapping and growling at my sons friends, and growling and nipping people for no reason. She would just go at them. This continued for months and continued to increase, now I'm not rich so i could not do these expensive brain scans. We continued to work with her and it became worse she began to attack my son 2 to 3 times a day. Jumping at him, piercing his clothes and bitting his feet. My son could not walk down the hall, sit at the dinner table or on the couch. We began reading her body language...petting her and watching her eyes knowing when we had move. Once my son was petting her and she jumped at his face just missing him. Now when i would step in and try remove her she turned on me, growling and snarling and baring all her teeth and just evil looking. I would cry becasue this was my puppy her and i become closer as she knew i was the hand that feed her. She was my shadow my furry baby. So when she did this I was heart broken. Things increased with her behavior and attacks. I started recording her attacks to show the vet and behaor lady. She began to break skin and my son was not allowed to live in his own house, we began to not let people over, and began to worry what she would do. She became unpredictable and dangerous. By now we have been bitten numerous times and she has punctured skin. Also ripping hole clothes trying jump at us. on Monday 12th I went back to the vet, we have tried collar with hormones and behavior tips and had medical exams done and she was "healthy" yet that monday I told her and showed the vet videos and began to cry saying my son was scared and she would attack him for no reason and then turn on me when i jumped in to help him. The vet was in shock watching the video, and seeing this lil dog there now. She goes strike 1 was the food, strike 2 was her aggression on anything and now she has bitten and your son in danger. STRIKE 3. I began to cry harder, saying she young and this wrong. The vet told me it was best becasue she was now an unpredictable animal. I went home that night and told my son, he cried and Cupid would go kiss his face and lay by him and then snap growl and nip at him. So that night im in my room and i hear my son cry and i go in and my dog has him backed in to the headboard of his bed. She snarling and growling and freaking out. I walk in and say down firm and all that nope she turned at me. I grabbed a pillow to shield myself(as we do alot) and she goes at that pillow shaking it and pulling it. I get my son out and her and i go head to head. she got my hand, no blood swollen and punctured. I cried all night ...I knew the vet was right my dog was not healthy. I called the vet that morning and told them, crying i said it has to be down. No-one should be afraid of their dog, or be bitten or terrorized in their home. They were very supportive. I went in that friday 16th and was with her the whole time. I cry every day and evryone including the vet tells me was not my fault, she could not be rehomed becasue of her issues and she was an unpredictable animal. Now i have videos of her and pictures all around, and i remember this sweet loving lil puppy and try block out the past 7 months of aggression she had. She was sick i know that, and reading all this stories helped me alot. Now of course there is more details and what have you but this was the short version. I will never love a dog as deeply as i did her, our bond was strong. And every day I ask myself why me, why couldnt she love us both. Ill never know and the what ifs and doubt and pain will never end for me. And people are like that your son, i was ready put others at risk to keep her. I know now she was mentally ill and she is at peace. REST WELL MY CUPID!


Shirley Newland 
January 26, 2015

We have a 4 year old lhasa mix adopted from the shelter 3 years ago and last night was the first time my husband and I talked about the possibility of euthanizing our beloved Cookie. My husband was playing with her and fiddled with her tail and she snapped at him (didn't actually bite but left a little bruise.) She has done this with him a couple of times. She is also extremely aggressive with any visitors and can't be trusted (we put her in a separate room.) Our brother is coming in to visit for several days and we are having her boarded as there will be visitors in the house and we don't want anybody bitten. She has nipped at visitors but has never broken skin, just a nip, usually if they got up to move around or leave. We don't know what to do with her as this behavior became apparent shortly after we brought her home but we felt training ( we hired a dog behaviorist the vet had recommended) and love would fix it. Sadly, it hasn't.


Steve 
January 25, 2015

Yesterday morning, I had to do the hardest thing I've ever done.  I had to put my beautiful tri-colored boy down.  I rescued Tippy when he was 3 and a half.  He recently turned 9.  In the 6 years I had him, he bit 7 people.  Thankfully(?) it was always friends or family so I was never sued.  I think I always used that as my excuse to not make this decision before.  Even with a muzzle, he would always try to attack visitors.  I had him on different medications that, for most dogs, would have helped but none worked for him.  Training did not help.  With me and my roommate he was the most loving dog.  But anyone else that would visit, he had to be locked up.  Even after they would leave, he would charge around the house for 5 minutes barking and looking for someone to attack.  He seemed ok at the dog park, but the last few times I was becoming nervous as he would sometimes follow people barking at them. I was his third owner.  I believe now he was abandoned twice due to these issues, but his previous owners didn't want the guilt of having to put him to sleep.  I feel like he had to pay the ultimate price for something that wasn't his fault.  I feel like I failed him.  I miss him terribly and break down constantly thinking of him.  I've had to put other dogs to sleep due to old age or health issues, but Tippy was different.  He was only 9 and had no physically health issues.  I realize his issues were in his head but because he was a rescue, he earned a special place in my heart.  I miss my special little guy so much at times it feels like the pain will never go away.  I try to tell myself that had it been any other owner, he would never have made it to 9 so he at least got 6 years of a great life, but there is still a place in my heart that feels empty without him.


Brian 
January 24, 2015

I keep coming to re-read this for some support.  Thank you.  I put down a long-time friend, Rufus, and I'm having a very hard time living with his passing.  It helps to hear other people with similar circumstances.  Thank you all.


Andy 
January 23, 2015

Jennifer, thank you for taking the time to respond and help me. I really appreciate the support and reassurance from someone who is in the same situation. I would like to also thank Phyllis for bringing this community together for emotional support and reassurance. I am starting to realise that the guilt I am feeling is actually sadness, guilt would have manifested if we did not make the ultimate sacrifice and allowed something like this to happen to someone again. I hope in time we can both be at peace with what we have had to do, and everyone else who has also been through such a horrific experience. The knowledge that we have protected others and acted responsibly should aid us both in this transition. I look forward to recalling the millions of happy memories we made together and to a time where I can once again smile and laugh. With the continued support of people such as yourself, this will occur sooner than if I were grieving alone. Take care and good luck in your own healing process, and again thank you for your help.


Bradley Brown 
January 23, 2015

As I sit here with tears in my eyes I know this article is right. I know my decision to protect my family was right. But, how do I lose the feeling of total loss? How do I let go and understand it was right? How do I after all the time, training, showing, canine good behavior test, etc.... explain how he could go after my own child....... I'm so lost and depressed still although I hide it everyday with alternative thought, and drinking. I feel like I am to blame, I feel like I failed him even thought the rational side says I know I am right. I see posts all the time of dogs just like mine and it makes me fee guilty. It makes me look at my son with a bit of "you caused this" even though he had nothing to do with it and I would protect him at the last breath of my life. Dogs really reach an emotional level that most humans can't, and its a loss that I bare for each and every one that I have lost until this last Dog. He was special, he was my best friend, he was my star, but he failed me. I think my hurt is that dogs had never failed me...... maybe that they had always been my hero as a child coming from a not so perfect childhood of constant parents fighting. Maybe just this once a dog had failed me like humans had always and I just couldn't understand it. Could it be that my only true trust relied on dogs???? I've come to face that dogs are my therapy, and although I will never be able to explain the actions of my best friend, I also cannot answer for crimes in which he chose to commit. My eyes swell, my tears fall like lost friends from years gone past, but my memory of him will always remain positive. I hope that one day i will get to see my Bear again, I hope that he will never hold his actions against mine for the choice I had to make, I hope that he forgives me and I forgive him , and we can meet together while I hold him stretched out across my belly and legs rubbing his tummy and giving him the unconditional love he always deserved. I hope my feeling of being completely empty and sad passes, and that faith is restored one day. One dog, who liath in Heaven, Bear is his name, and I wish him the best until we can meet again. Until then, I will carry this extremely large rock in my chest for my brother who has passed on much to early. Bear was a friend, although I cannot forget his choice, and I am thankful for my wife and child's safety, I will always forgive and love him for eternity!


Evelyn 
January 22, 2015

Sorry for what you have been through. I too had a dog like this.  He was only 18 months old when he attacked my daughter for absolutely no reason. He was a very anxious dog since we got him. In the beginning he was fine, nervous with anxiety but was fine with our family. No aggression at all. Then things started to change. He would growl at strangers, cower from any loud sound, yawn continually with anxiety. Got very anxious when we left the house, even nervous when on walks. He had bitten a friend needing 10 stitches( someone he knew since he was a pup) I made an excuse for it and got a trainer and behaviorist who told me he had weak nerves, just wired bad. We chose to keep him and work through it after all he was great with us. Snuggled with my kids on the couch, happy when we were around. Then he snapped at my nephew just for walking past him, lunged at me several times when I tried to get him away from our cat.(stare down) he never I'd this in the past. Something was changing in him. He would hide under the house outside when he heard a  Noise. Even his eyes had changed. The sparkle was gone. On the day my daughter got attacked he was just laying on the patio, like he always did. My 10 year old daughter opened the door and called him for dinner like we do every night. I heard her open the door, her voice was sweet like always. I heard her say "what's wrong, come on boy", within seconds I heard her blood-curdling screams, I got to the door in seconds, she was standing with her arms crossed over her chest, blood on her arms, he just kept jumping at her trying to land more bites, snarling. It was all seconds but it is etched in my mind forever. He retreated the minute I called his name. Her had bite her hands puncture wounds, and jumped in and bit her chest. Requiring 8 stitches.  Doctors said she had multiple scrapes to her chest, which indicating he couldn't latch onto her. I still to this day can't understand why he would do this to his own girl. They were friends. We loved our dog. But how many times was I going to make excuses for him. With my daughter's bite, it was 5 total nips/bites behind him. I think his anxiety made him snap. No one had any explanation why, except that he was just wired wrong.  There was no other option. The next time he could have seriously injured or killed.


Jennifer Knotts 
January 21, 2015

Andy- I wanted to send you a word of support… your story is so familiar to mine and so very fresh like my pain is.  If you scroll down, my story is below about my beloved poodle. I have and had many of the same exact feelings you are experiencing… On the morning we went to send Scooby to Heaven, January 2nd of this year…. I talked to the vet again about the decision.  My vet has been involved in Scooby's life for the past 6 years and knew what we'd been through in his total 7.5 years.  Like your beloved baby, Scooby would get incredibly nervous around shouting, loud noises, if a guest was over and putting their shoes on, he'd start batting his eyes and lowering his head in nervousness… the sound of ice coming out of the fridge and dropping into a cup would all but send him into a tizzy… he was truly ALWAYS nervous and had terrible separation anxiety from being away from my husband and I. That day, the vet told me that Scooby made the final choice so that we didn't have to… we truly didn't have a choice.  When a dog shows signs of aggression to a child, that's it… there is no going back.  You, like me, are so very lucky that your dog didn't hurt anyone more than he did… that doesn't make him a bad dog though… it makes him stressed and he "was" living with a disease.  Although it wasn't a cancer, it was still eating him and he was suffering from it… you ended his suffering.  <-- this is the advice that my vet gave me, and although it was PAINFUL to hear, it "did" help me understand that there was nothing I could do for Scooby any longer.  They truly become part of your family and it's heart wrenching to let them go.  It's been nearly 3 weeks and I still cry daily… not always in sadness… I choose to remember all of the times that little "neurotic" dog made me smile… how many lasting memories I'll have with him forever.  Nothing will ever fill the void, but, I promise, the grieving process "does" get more bearable once you are able to let yourself focus on the good memories and to not blame yourself for the bad ones. If you ever need someone to talk to-  I'm here to listen, because I truly know exactly how you feel.  You did the right thing for both of you.  Take care! You will be in my thoughts and prayers.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
January 20 2015

Thao My, I am very sorry for your loss of your dog.  It does hurt!  Know that she is in a place where she will no longer be scared and take the chance of biting someone.  I know you would have felt a lot worse had she seriously bitten one of your friends.


Andy 
January 19, 2015

Thank you to everyone that has shared their horrific experiences. It soothes me to know I am in the company of like minded dog lovers who have had to make the hardest decision ever to euthanize a dog who is their best friend. I am so glad I found this site and hope others can take comfort in my words too. My story is about my beloved 4.1/2 year old boarder collie Archie. He honestly was the love of my life and the most loyal, loving and caring dog I have ever known. He was everything to me, my life revolved around making him happy and in return he brought me pleasure I cannot begin to describe. However yesterday I had to say good bye to him as many other commentors on here have had to. From having him since 9 weeks old, he has never shown any signs of aggression to any human or animal, he has been the perfect dog. He has suffered with sensitivity and nervousness as many collies do but nothing worrying. He would cower and tremble whenever the wife and I would raise our voice, and was petrified of loud bangs and fireworks. Other than that he never showed any sign of behavioural abnormality. However everything changed a month ago when he nipped the face of a 3 year old visitor seemingly unprovoked. We immediately enlisted the help of a behaviouralist who assured us there was no cause for concern after assessing him, he said, like everyone that ever met him, that he was loving and friendly. We did employ a few minor behaviour modifications to help him when our first child was to be born in June but these were just to stop him sleeping  on our bed. However last Saturday night when friends were round everything changed. Again for no apparent reason, a familiar face was stroking him on the sofa as she has done many times before and out of no where he jumped up and bit her face twice. Resulting in a hospital visit and a stitch. Following this, a vet visit confirmed that due to the unpredictable nature of 2 attacks in 4 weeks we could not run the risk of it happening again. He would not be accepted by a rescue with a bite history and we considered it immoral not to disclose it. This left us with no choice but to make the ultimate sacrifice of our beloved 'child' for the safety of others. My heart has been ripped out, I know I have made the right decision but I am riddled with guilt about ending his like so prematurely and am sick with feelings of failing him. But it was a decision that had to be made, and it will be the hardest decision of my life and will plague me forever. I would urge others to share similar experiences to help with their graving process. We will all heal a little more with the support and reassurance from others. Remember all the help in the world cannot guarantee an unpredictable dog will not bite again. And in situations such as ours where there is soon to be a baby, it is not fair to run the risk. It just proves that the seemingly most loving dogs can become ill and change irreparably. Good bye my little boy, I will remember you as the loving, caring dog that you were and will treasure the happiness you brought into my life forever
 


Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM 
January 19, 2015

Dear Tad, I am so sorry for your troubles.  You didn't mention how old Ringo is or if he has any other history of aggression, but you did mention that this is his first bite.  As a mother, I absolutely understand your wife's fears.  However, this does appear to be a provoked bite; I know your son wasn't trying to scare Ringo, but from a dog's perspective the sudden kiss may have felt threatening, especially if Ringo was sleeping. Would your wife maybe be willing to talk with the veterinarian at today's appointment to get an opinion from a professional who knows him? Regardless, I'm holding you all in my thoughts. Christy


Tad 
January 19, 2015

I am sobbing as I write this. Last week our best boy Ringo was sleeping on our sons bed. Our son bent down to give him a kiss and Ringo bit him on the mouth. He was obviously startled and didn't attack, but gave a snap. My wife is insisting that we put him down and has made an appointment for this afternoon. He has never been aggressive and this was his first bite, but my wife is confident that he cannot be changed now and she is unwilling to look at alternatives..


Elaine 
January 19, 2015

Thank you for your story. We are in the process of making this decision for my dog, Carina. She has been always loving and gentle to my kids and myself, but even after a lot of training and socialization she is showing more signs of aggression and bit a child in the face so badly that he needed stiches. This happened in my home while she was calmly lying next to me. We thought to find her a new home but fear for her future and now feel that putting her out of harm's way is the best choice. My heart is torn to pieces for her, for myself and for my children. This helps me to accept that this is the best choice for us all. Thank you.


Cecilia 
January 18, 2015

Yesterday evening my 160 lb German Shepard/Keeshond mix attacked my 50 lb pit mix when a delivery man rang the doorbell. He attacked him once before when the meter reader came by. This time it happened indoors and both my roommate and I were bitten as well. She has 3 significant wounds on her torso. I had to get my finger stitched back together with enough room between the stitches for it to drain. The big dog had knee surgery ,  years ago and usually moves slowly but not today. I am considering whether or not to euthanize the big dog. I don't know what to do.


Phyllis DeGioia 
January 15, 2015

Hi Tina, You  and your husband are not bad people - please believe me on this! You are allowed to make whatever decision you want , and you should not have to live with a dog you're afraid of, not now or after the baby arrives I think that someone who returns a dog because their fur shows up on the new furniture aren't good people, but I would never think that of an expecting couple with an aggressive dog. The laws about aggressive dogs vary widely even within the United States, and most of us don't know much about the laws outside our own area. I suggest you call whatever government authority is in charge of dog laws, perhaps the police or the city, or a veterinarian who is familiar with them, and ask what the current laws are. It would be interesting to know if the shelter's contract to return the dog to them and their subsequent refusal to do so is legal - as well as their threats to take your other dog, which makes no sense at all and makes me wonder about the legality of what the shelter says. Whether the law is on their side or not, their response is inappropriate at best. I wonder if other people have had the same problem with this shelter. In other words, let's find out what's legal and what isn't, and what your legal options are. If the law says you have to abide by their contract, yet they refuse to take her, that may be illegal on their part. I am sorry that they are treating you in such an inappropriate manner by harassing you, and discussing how you will treat your child is simply out of line. Have you ruled out any medical cause for her aggressive behavior? Perhaps she has some medical issue that needs treatment. If your veterinarian cannot find a medical cause, perhaps he can euthanize the dog for you. Much depends on your local laws, so let's start there. Please keep us informed and let us know how this progresses. My heart is with you.


Tina 
January 15, 2015

Hi there. First of all thank you for a very helpful article. My husband and I, are in a bit of a situation as well. We have to shelter dogs, the oldest we got when she was 4 months and the youngest when she was 8 weeks. We were told the youngest was a Labrador and German Shepard mix, though we were ourselves pretty sure that there was no German Shepard in her. She is a border collie and something else maybe Doberman. She is now 7 months old. She has always been a very nervous dog, and kept to herself a lot in the beginning. As she grew she became more social and with that very jealous. She does not like when, especially me, is showing our other dog or anybody else attention. She gets right in there. She has also been very destructive, but we have written that off to being a puppy. A month or two ago she started being aggressive. It started with a fight with our other dog, she was vomiting and the younger dog attacked her. I was home alone and got very frightened, I didn't know what to do so I tried to separate them. When I held both dogs the younger dog launched out for me deliberately and bit me so she drew blood. I realize that it was in a heat of the moment situation. But after I put her outside I cried my eyes out. I'm from Denmark, but live in South Africa. And in Denmark a dog have to be putted down if it bit a human, by law. So I thought it was the same here, but it's not. After that episode her aggressive behavior have accelerated. She have attached our other dog on 3 or 4 other occasions, where she also drew blood. We took her to the shelter for her sterilization and I had to wait outside because she was so aggressive towards all the other dogs and humans. A small boy walked close to us and our dog almost attached him, had to hold the leash with all my power. She is foaming and drawling at the mouth. We think it is because she have such a nervous nature that it comes out as aggression. We have only given her a loving safe home. Our  Dilemma now is that I'm 3 months pregnant and we have tried the whole pregnancy to teach her not to jump up one stomach with no success, our other dog learned a long time ago (she is just over a year) and I'm scared of her. We have been to dog training etc and now thought about a "dog whisperer" but have come to a conclusion that we can't have her in our home. We don't want to risk our unborn child's safety. We don't feel we have the time to spend on an expert on a plan that might or might not work. She is a very sweet dog 99% of the time, but the 1% is just to big for us, especially with a baby on the way. We have contacted the shelter because in the contract it states that we have to give the dog back to them. They have made us out as criminals and terrible people and have absolutely no empathy or understanding for out situation, witch is not at all easy to begin with. The emails they have sent us is bordelinine emotional abuse, and they compare the dog with a child, blaming us for making the dog this way. Indirectly telling us we are gonna do the same to our child. And threatening that they will take our other dog. It's all very heartbreaking and confusing as they in all their emails want us to keep the dog. It makes us second guess ourselves. But are both our gut feelings and my mother instinct wrong? Or are we just very bad people. They is no consideration about if the dog is actually born this way. All the above might seem like we don't love both our dogs, which is not the case at all. We love them as part of the family. But we have to do what we think is the best for our child. What do you think we should do?


Sarah 
January 13, 2015

Thank you all for your comments here. My boyfriend and I have been laboring over the decision to put our dog Bob down. He's a Pitt/Lab mix. Bob is my boyfriend's dog. He's had him since birth. With the two of us, Bob is a sweet loving dog who wants nothing but pets and attention. But over the past year he's started to get more anxious/jumpy. Any major disruption (me moving to stand on a chair, dropping something, carrying the duster) sends him into a barking fit. Over the past year, Bob has nipped at and/or bitten 3 children. After the first child we had him boarded and observed by a vet and his behavior monitored. They released him back to us...but since then there have been 2 more incidents. The last child was my nephew. He was leaning down to pet Bob and while he was petting him he lunged at my nephew and gave him a puncture wound just below his eye and another  under his chin. So that tells me his mouth was all over my nephews face. I've tried to find Bob a new home with a rescue who could house him with a person who has no interaction with children but so far no one will take him. I'm sick to my stomach about this. I don't want any child to be injured in my home but I'm having a hard time coming to terms with my boyfriends decision to euthanize the dog. Should we try more training or while we do that, will Bob bite again? And will it be an even more severe incident...? I take solace that we aren't the only ones that have had to deal with this heart wrenching decision... I just wish I could know for sure it was the right thing to do.


Susan Oldham 
January 13, 2015

Reading this article and the comments has been so insightful and helpful.  I was recently advised to euthanize my 1-yr old border collie mix by my trainer (who specializes in behavioral issues) and the rescue group where I got her.  I am at an emotional and financial tipping point, but still somehow feel like I'm not doing enough and am a failure.  After reading these posts, it seems more and more like letting her go is the only option if I want to live in peace, and if I want her to be at peace.  While she has not sent anyone to the hospital, it seems inevitable and I am not willing to wait around for that to happen.  She has had 3 serious biting incidents and many displays of aggression towards people that did not result in bites but were very unnerving, all unprovoked, all unpredicted, all causing bleeding wounds to my friends, male and female.  I feel awful at the thought of ending my beautiful dog's life, she is the sweetest thing with me and has never shown aggression to me, but I can't go out of town, can't introduce her to friends, can't socialize.  The fighter in me wants to keep giving her chances but it seems like that is the commonality in all of the stories I'm reading, and that it's only a matter of time before she will have to be put down.  I worry about what I will tell my friends, my dog-walking buddies in the neighborhood, the doggy day care where I take her.  Most people have not seen her dark side, and I'm sure they won't understand.  But I have to follow my gut, even though it hurts so much.  We have been in a rigorous training program for the past 6 months.  The trainer says she is unpredictable and would not bring her into his home.  The rescue group I work with said that they would not place her in a new home, knowing her issues, that it would be irresponsible.  I feel the same.  Now, I need to do some meditation and think about what is best for both me and my dog, who I had committed to caring for and protecting.  I'm trying not to worry about other voices in my head, or about what others will think.  It's heart wrenching and so frustrating to consider having to end her life, but if our life together is not a happy or harmonious one, I have to make this choice.  Thank all of you for telling your stories.


Thao My 
January 12, 2015

Yesterday we euthanized my dog, Mimi. This year she would have become 3 years old but sadly she couldn't. Coming home from school yesterday was hard, I asked my dad where she was and he said that we euthanized her. It was to believe that she was gone. When I got her I never thought I would euthanize her, this is so unrealistic. The reason we did that was because she became really aggressive and that was not safe for children if they came to my house. I will never hear her again, I did not want accept that but I had to. I wish I could see her once more but I guess that is to late. It was hard for me to know she will never comeback, I will always love her as my first dog and my baby.


CW 
January 12, 2015

I want to thank you, Phyllis, and everyone who posted comments.  I truly believe that reading these messages gave me the courage to make the most upsetting decision of my life.  This afternoon I had to put my beloved Zephyr to sleep.  He was a 7 1/2 year old Border Collie, who I got as a rescue when he was 10 weeks old.  As so many of you described, he was a wonderful dog-- except when he was aggressive, and his aggression was escalating quickly.  He saw two separate behaviorists over the past 6 years, and had been on anti-anxiety medications for years too.  Recently (despite training, exercise, special diets, and anti-anxiety pills, allergy treatment, and treatment for IBD), he'd started acting more anxious than ever.  In the past ten days he's bitten two family members (not his first bites), and we felt we had no choice but to send him across the Rainbow Bridge.  As brokenhearted as I am, I'm also very grateful to all of you for sharing your experiences.  This was an extraordinarily difficult decision, and it helped me to know that others had had the courage to look beyond the heartbreak, and to protect themselves and their families.


Phyllis DeGioia 
January 12, 2015

No one should live with a dog they are afraid of. Not only should you not be afraid in your own home,  but also your dog may pick up on that fear, increasing his anxiety and possibly making matters work. I disagree strongly, almost violently, with your husband - if you were able to "break" him (I'm not sure what that means, but I presume you mean like breaking a horse) you would have done so long ago. As you present the situation, this dog is clearly dangerous and cannot be rehomed. Diane, you are literally in fear for your life.  Someone, maybe you, maybe your husband, maybe your son (think of the sorrow) or a service person (think of the liability) is likely to get seriously hurt. I don't mean might get hurt, I mean it's a matter of time and you spend the most time with the dog.  What are his reservations about euthanizing? The dog's aggression began when he was a puppy and has continued to worsen. You have tried a good trainer, a diary of what sets him off, and I presume you cannot afford the diagnostics your veterinarian suggests or you would have done them. Since he gets more aggressive on any medication, the only other option I can think of is to surrender him to a shelter where he will be quickly euthanized, but that endangers other people. I am sorry to say that your situation is one of the most frightening I have heard of, and it makes my heart race to even think about being in a room with this dog, much less living with him, and I too fear for your safety. You're afraid to let him out of the house, much less let him back in. I'm really sorry that you and your husband cannot come to an agreement. Have you made it clear to him how scared you are of this dog, and what your fears are?


Christina 
January 12, 2015

I can't tell you how helpful this site has been. I have cried for two days straight feeling a range of emotions. We had to put our beautiful four year old Lacquer Black German Shepherd Duke down on Saturday. The worst day of my life. I loved him more than words can describe. His aggression got so bad over the last two years that we started to live in fear. He was so strong and really did some damage to several people. we tried a trainer and meds we tried just keeping him away from people.It became so difficult to  not be afraid he was really going to do something dreadful. The final straw was just over two weeks ago when my husband went out on our back porch and bent down to pick up a toy and Duke attacked my husband tearing into his right arm something fierce. All I could hear was my husband screaming and Duke making the most frightening growling and snarling sounds I had ever heard. we spent 5 hours in ER and we knew that we had to make the choice to put him down. Our thirteen year old son was so fearful of Duke after that. Duke had bitten our sons friend who was just sitting on the front porch facing in the opposite direction. Thank God my husband was quick in getting the dog away and the boy had only had a single bite on the shoulder. I think it would have been a lot worse if he wasn't able to grab him. After reading so many of the stories on this site I do feel a bit at ease. I feel heartbroken that I had to send my beloved Duke(who was extremely close to me and very protective of me) to his eternal rest, but somehow I know it was best. Until someone has lived with this type of aggression from an animal that they loved like a child they should not judge how to handle it. I never thought I would have to put a beautiful healthy sweet (most of the time) animal to sleep. I will never be able to fully explain the loss and hurt that I feel. Time will heal this hole I have in my heart. To everyone suffering from the grief that comes with this decision my heart goes out to you all. Hopefully our babies are doing good and playing together happily.


Diane 
January 11, 2015

So, I've been sitting here for the last 2 hours reading the comments on this site. My husband and I have been struggling with the decision to euthanize our 18 month old Belgian Malinois for the last 8 months. He bit me, his primary trainer and caregiver, just over a year ago and we've been going through his aggression issues ever since. There have been times I wasn't able to move off my chair because Yawkey was sitting next to me and something upset him and my moving made him snarl, growl and drool worse. I've literally had to wait and not move for hours until my husband got home from work or my adult son came over. We have another 11 year old Malinois, who was actually a rescue pup, so we knew what kind of dog we were getting, but I don't think I should be afraid to move in my own house. Yawkey has 'gone after' everyone in our family so we don't have anyone come to our house, ever. Even when he's crated he freaks out and we've spent countless hours listening to him growl all day/night long. I knew early on that my training skills were not good enough for this powerful breed, so he has been with a trainer, and by all accounts a very good one who is well versed with the breed (he also trains and breeds German shepherds) and we have shown Sam video of Yawkey...he says it could be seizures or a brain tumor or so many things. We have kept a Yawkey diary to see if we could figure out what set him off, but it varies from time to time..the diary included things like type of weather, play time, number and lengths of walks, any new toys or food, visits to the vet, number of hours of sleep....just about everything. My husband still feels that we can 'break' this dog, but I am afraid of him every time I have to open his crate and I'm still the primary caregiver as I work from home. He weighs 86 pounds, so he's a large Malinois and I'm honestly afraid that it's not just going to be my face, but my life or someone that I loves life that the dog ends. The vet seems to think we can try medicine, but only after MRIs and other tests. Any time he dog takes any meds, even if they don't have any aggression side effects, he gets aggressive. It's 2 am and he's barking to go out right now and I'm afraid to go get him. I know I'm probably going to get hate messages, but honestly I hate hurting anything or anyone and yet I feel this dog should be put down so I'm not afraid to move in my own house. I'm not naive enough to believe that comments from strangers will help me convince my husband that this needs done, but I am relieved to know I'm not the only one struggling with this. Thank you for listening.


Chris 
January 9, 2015

I'm putting down my 6 year old Dalmatian/springer/shepherd mix today.  She's absolutely beautiful.  My husband and I went to St. Croix in 2009 for our 10th anniversary and saw her pic in a window...she was looking for a home and was at the shelter.  We brought her home. She was 10 months old.  She's always been a little skittish and insecure.  About three or four years ago she started getting little funny around little kids that weren't our own.  We have three girls.  Two that are 13 the other 11.  I didn't worry much about it.  It was more like a funny look and a little growl so I just kept and eye on her without much incident.  That changed this past spring when our daughters' 10 year old friend went to pet her when she was sleeping.  She lunged at her viciously but didn't bite.  This time I figured I'd just put her away when kid visitors came by.  Last week, she went after my 13 year old when she went up to her while she as sleeping on the couch.  Scary but no bite so I rationalized keeping her again.  Wednesday she bit my 13 year old in the face.  Bruise on her forehead and two small cuts near her eye and nose.  I realize now that it's getting more frequent and escalating.  Why??  Today at 4:30 we're putting her down.  Can we take the chance that next time she rips apart her face?  Or a visitor.  I'm sick and in tears.  Please tell me I'm doing the right thing.  This same dog will roll on the floor and play with my daughter...that's what makes it so hard.  This is awful.


Linda Tinsley 
January 8, 2015

I had to put down my best friend today. Atticus was a pit/ Shepard mix who stole my heart as a 3 mos. old rescue. Overly anxious, I hired behavioral it's and put him on Prozac. A few accelerating attacks on other housemates, made us wary and a tailored room crating system began in the house. I was told that it was not likely that his animal aggression would transfer to people. He was my savior when I became disabled and had to leave my job as an RN. He was silly, loving and needy. I loved him. Last night he attacked me with no provocation and if it weren't for my son and partner being at home I don't think I would have survived. I ended up in the local trauma unit with chest, shoulder and injuries to both arms.  Since he remained aggressive at home towards my son, a decision was made to call animal control to have him removed from the home. Today he was euthanized. I know that this was the right decision but my heart feels like it has been ripped from my chest. I know he was frightened at the local shelter right up until he was put down. I feel like I should have been there with him but it wasn't allowed. Guilt, remorse and knowing that I did the right thing does nothing tonight to assuage the thought that I let my best buddy Addie down.


Amy 
January 7, 2015

I too am heartbroken and devastated by having my dog attack my sons face on Monday. I am grateful to find this page. It helps to know I am not alone. We got our Hershey months ago. He was a AmStaff (pitbull)mix.  He adored me and made himself my dog. We lavished each other with love. I felt so fortunate to have him.  He was very territorial with my bed, the car the house. He attacked my son when he walked up to the bed. I never thought I would experience such a nightmare.  Now I wake up to the same nightmare everyday. My son had to be put under to do stitch-work on his face and I can only hope that he heals well emotionally and physically. We put the dog down the night it happened. I know it was the right thing to do. I feel awful for putting my son at risk and I would not want the dog to hurt anyone else. In the back of my mind I knew it was only a matter of time before he bit someone. I did not listen to my instinct and I don't know how I will ever forgive myself. I passively agree to get a pitbull and convinced myself he wasn't a bigger risk than other dogs. I was an AmStaff advocate. Now I know he should have been sent to a specialized training place AT least! I feel like I failed the dog and my son. I feel for everyone here. I have such mixed emotions. the dogs love was so unconditional and beautiful. I miss him terrible.  I also hurt like crazy for my son.  Such an unfortunate random act of violence. Now I will be an advocate for not putting others especially our children at risk. All the dog love in the world is not worth it.


Lisa 
January 5, 2015

In 4 hours and 7 minutes we have to euthanize one of our dogs.  Dooley is a sweetheart most of the time - very loving and obedient.  On occasion, however, he will turn aggressive and bite for no reason.  He has bitten friends who come in our yard and has leaned over our chain-link fence to bite 2 neighbor children (he is a very tall Doberman).  We have since put up a tall privacy fence on that side of the yard. The trainer/behaviorist we took him to said that he is not a "bad" dog, but thought Dooley would bite again.  He recently turned and bit my husband on the leg out of the blue.  The final straw is that our neighbors (older couple) are moving and have sold their house to a couple with young boys.  We cannot risk Dooley harming another child and the risk of a lawsuit.  He was a year old when we got him and he had been "evidence" in a police case (his owner threw him at police when he was 4 months old).  I keep telling myself that we gave him another 3 wonderful years, but I feel like an executioner.  I never realized how many signs/bites someone can overlook before reality sets in. I feel so guilty that we have to put our sweet boy to sleep. Our whole family is devastated that we have to do this -he is a member of our family and it feels like we are having him murdered.


Jennifer Knotts 
January 2, 2015

Oh my goodness- you and this article are completely God send to me today.  I have a poodle that we've had for 7.5 years... In that time, he has bitten my husband and I and some relatives more times than I can count... Embarrassingly enough. We've since been quarantining him in the house from visitors (family included) and everyone knows they cannot touch him. Our first child was born a year and a half ago and in that time, my husband has made custom gates around the house to keep Scooby (our Poodle) away from the baby. I'm currently pregnant with our second child and in a rush to get out of the house to get me to the hospital for some complications I'm having with pregnancy, I accidentally left the gate open and Scooby got out. My toddler tried to play with him and he bit her on the arm and on the leg. Though the bites did not break her skin, they bruised her, scared her and broke a piece in my husband to see our beloved pet on top of our child... It could have been so much worse... Like you, we were very lucky. I've been in the hospital and was released on bed rest...'I've been ordered to have zero stress in my life.... And today, we will take our first "baby" to send him to Heaven. I'm a total wreck and have so much guilt, mostly like you, over what could have been- how badly he could have hurt her, how I let it go on this long... But, then... Am I cutting his life short? Could I have done something differently to help him? Although he has left my husband and I with no choice... It is one of the most painful experiences I've ever been through. After reading your story- it's so easy for me to tell you to discharge any negative comments from readers who do not understand what you've been through... Just as I've had several close friends tell me to "suck it up, I should have done it long ago." Only you know the bond you have with your baby and only you know what he meant to you... Which is what makes it so painful. I wanted you to know how much your article made me feel "normal" to see someone else expressing the same emotions I'm feeling. I wish you all the best in your healing process and hope you can eventually think of nothing about your sweet baby except the good memories... I hope you can feel thankful that God put him in your life to allow you to feel the kind of love a dog can bring to a family and I hope you know that you changed his life by giving him the best life you could when many others would have abused him or gotten rid of him long ago. It takes a much stronger person to stick it out, to work with the dog and to give him the gift of time... I believe God put Scooby in our lives to grow us and make us better parents and to teach us the un fathomable love we have for our children that we may not have otherwise had for ourselves... If we'd never have children... We would have kept Scooby until he passed naturally on his own and we'd have dealt with whatever curves he threw our way. Many people would call us crazy... They were right... We are crazy in love with our furry baby... I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers and would appreciate the same as my husband and myself will leave today to end the life that first made us a "family."  Thank you- your article makes me feel more normal.


Phyllis DeGioia 
December 30, 2014

Nicole, I totally understand. I'm so sorry about the traumatic experience with Bella and the many significant injuries she caused. You tried everything and went above and beyond for her. I feel certain that she is calmer and happier now, and I know how good it feels not to have to walk on egg shells. My heart is with you and your family. Take care of yourself.


Nicole 
December 30, 2014

4 years ago I adopted my Australian Shepherd Bella from a rescue at the age of 8 weeks. She was such a loveable puppy always willing to please and be at are feet constantly she was the best thing I could have ever asked for. As she grew older I notice things started to change and didn't seem right. At 10 weeks old Bella was barking at Men for a 10 week old puppy to Bark aggressively at Men it was not right. So I got her into to training classes and worked with her none stop getting her used to Men she started to warm up to them but still was cautious around them. We put Bella thru 3 classes and she passed them all and made it to advanced. She was a smart girl loved to learn new tricks and train by my side. When 6 months came around I noticed a bigger change we where in class and one of the trainers came up to pet her out of no where Bella turned and tried to attack the trainer. we tried to calm her down but couldn't so we had to remove her from the building. Everything seemed to be getting Better after private training with a professional trainer. I worked with her for many Hrs a day to help her through her problems. 2012 came around it was a beautiful fall day I had let Bella outside a neighbor kid came over and went to pet her bella sniffed her and was showing no signs of aggression, fear or anxiety out of no where she jumped up and attacked her and got her chest area the girl had to go to the hospital. so we sent her to rehab after that for a few months. she came back Better and I spent everyday working with her. 2013 came around everything started out fine but one day bella got in one of her moods and went after my dad and he almost lost a hand. in that time frame we tried medication but nothing worked her eyes where always dilated something was really wrong mentally. this year alone she went after me I almost lost a hand and also my mom. December 12th was the last straw when out of no where she lunged at my moms face I went to grab her I had to rip them apart it was really scary. so yesterday we had to put her down, it hurts a lot I loved her and I still do with all my heart. She was a sweet and loving dog when she wanted to be, she loved to pose for the came and hold items and snuggle up on cold days. she loved to run and go for long walks. we where walking on egg shells for 4 years and finally said enough was enough. I miss her dearly and I will always feel guilty that I try enough. But deep down I know it was the right thing. We talked to the vet yesterday and they said it was the right thing to do. we rescued Bella from a shelter and the pups came from a BYB. I miss her dearly but I know she is in a better.


Phyllis DeGioia 
December 29, 2014

Hi Toni, I'm so sorry that you are experiencing this situation, and you are definitely not alone or a terrible person. Please remember what my vet said to me the morning I euthanized Dodger: "If he were healthy, you wouldn't be here this morning," she said, and I love her for that. You have diligently worked with trainers and behaviorists, plus were bitten so many times (being bitten in the face is terrifying, and had it been someone not in your family, it would cause significant guilt and financial injury). It's also not fair to allow your Lab to be constantly afraid in her own home, and attacked repeatedly. There are no easy answers here, and we each must do what we need to do for ourselves. Please take care of yourselves.


Anne Springer 
December 28, 2014

As a trainer, I also feel that, aside from skills training, it's so very important to socialize young puppies safely.  The American Veterinary Society for Animal Behavior suggests early socialization as does the Pet Professional Guild - and they have a terrific puppy education section on their website.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
December 27, 2014

Cathy, You can start by talking to a veterinary behaviorist to have her behaviors evaluated.  My best is guess is that she is not going to be reformed, but you might be able to manage her to prevent bites.  This can mean living with crates and taking extra care when anyone is around.  It can mean living a life of walking on eggshells around her.  Rehoming her is not fair to her or anyone who takes her. Here is a link to the Veterinary behaviorists' website.  This evaluation is beyond the realm of a dog trainer.  http://www.dacvb.org/ And here another article I wrote about making sure you do not use punishment when training an aggressive dog.  http://www.vin.com/vetzinsight/default.aspx?pid=756&catId=5861&Id=6503590 I wish you luck and hope you can come back to update all of us on your decision.


Cathy Hoard 
December 27, 2014

My husband and I adopted a beautiful Aussie-golden mix in October.  Our introduction to her went well and the ride home was great.  She showed us that she was a good rider and that she loved the wind blowing in her face.  That evening my husband played with her in the yard.  She happily pranced around as they chased each other.  Unfortunately, later that evening as he leaned over to pet her, she bit him twice on the face.  I took her to the vet the next day and found that she had an untreated ear infection.  We hoped that that would solve the problem, but she has continued to be very aggressive toward males.  I called the shelter where we had adopted her and they admitted that she may have been mistreated.  The vet had also noted a weakness in one leg and an eye that sometimes crosses.  Our poor dog may have also been hit by a car and sustained nerve damage.  She also had a severe seizure a few weeks ago.  Our two sons have been home for the Christmas holiday and she has been very aggressive toward them to the point that we have to put her outside or hold her to prevent her from attacking.  Our dog is so sweet to me and sticks to me like an extra shadow, but I cannot continue to worry when the next attack comes.  She may have behavior issues which may or may not be correctable, or brain damage which we cannot address.  I love her and am so torn.  Any advice anyone can offer would be greatly appreciated.


Toni 
December 25, 2014

I am so glad I came across this website. My fiancé and I have come to the very painful decision tonight, Christmas Eve, to put to sleep my beloved 9 1/2 year old Siberian husky Kodi. We rescued her from a shelter 3 1/2 years ago. She showed signs of aggression when I picked her up to put her in the car that day. I should've taken her back then, before I could grow to love her as this just makes it more painful. She has never really been people aggressive, but there has been multiple bites due to breaking up her fights with our Lab. We sought help right away with training and behaviorists. While it was determined she could be managed, it was made clear that most likely, she would attack again. I'll be clear, she doesn't just attack to reprimand another dog, she attacks to kill. Unfortunately, I have been bitten multiple times trying to keep her from our other dog. Today, she bit me in the face. And I guess, that's the last straw. I could have lost an eye. And what if she gets loose and bites someone else, or someone who comes to the house? We have had to alter our lives around her aggressive behavior. We can't take trips because we can't board her and no one wants to come to the house to house sit, not that I could blame them. We have to keep her separated from our Lab, who is terrified of her. I know that putting her to sleep is probably the best decision, but it doesn't make it easier when 95%!of the time she's a great dog and I love her. I was a vet tech for so many years and it just seems wrong to have to euthanize a healthy dog, but in have to remember, that in her head, she IS sick. It doesn't make it easier though. I don't think I've ever had to make such a heart wrenching decision. Thank you everyone for sharing your stories so that I don't feel l'm alone and a horrible person.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
December 23, 2014

Lisa, I am so sorry about what has happened with your family and your dog.  It is amazingly hard to have your beloved canine friend turn on you, to be so unpredictable.  I know that you are doing the right thing by putting him down.  You don't want anyone else hurt, as all of you have been hurt.  I am very glad that your daughter's eye was missed. Please know, this was not caused by anything you have done.  My heart goes out to you.  Please take care!


Lisa 
December 22, 2014

I feel everyone's pain!  As  I lay here in bed sobbing, I came across this site.  We have to give up my English Springer Spaniel whom I love like one of my own children in 9 hours, 3 days before Christmas.  I feel like my heart is ripping apart, my eyes are almost swollen shut and my head pounds so.  My almost 3 year old Springer attacked my 14 year old daughter just 12 hours ago.  He  bit her in the face and arm.  He too has had an aggression issue since he was about  10 months old.  98% of the time he is this smart, loveable & most affectionate  guy.  But that 2%, if he gets a hold of something he's not supposed to or doesn't like something, he turns into the most scary, vicious, snarling attack dog you have ever seen.  His attacks have never been this extreme.  He lunged at me a year ago and bit my hand as I was following him down to the basement after he growled, showed his teeth and barked nasty at me.  Scared me to death.  He also has jumped on top of my daughter growling/barking aggressively at my daughter before, but never full out attacked like he did yesterday.  I could go on, but, I love him so much I have given him so many chances.  But this time as my husband came running downstairs hearing the dog and my daughter screaming he tried to get him and he attacked my husband's hand so bad we are pretty sure he could use stitches and possibly broke a finger, he's in so much pain.  We know we have no choice now.  But, how can a dog, especially with how he adores my daughter and I so much and we love on him constantly and spoil him do this??  He attacked my niece when he was just 10 months old....and that's when it all started.  And the thing is, it's so random! But it seems as he gets older his "mood swings" just got worse. These traits we tried to over look, especially having him since he was 9 weeks old.  He never chewed up furniture, listened to all commands and was the smartest dog we ever seen, but the aggression was one like a Doberman they way he would bark and show his teeth and drool.  We  bought him from a breeder, and honestly her house wasn't in the best shape, smelled like urine & cluttered and we think now his parents were over breed.  My husband grew up with English springers and said he never had one that did this. So, now how do we deal with putting him down?  I feel awful, but know this was the last straw. Just 2 more inches, and she could've had eye damage. Now she has a bite mark on her face, swollen lip, bit arm and bruised.  I watched it all happen, like a bad movie in slow motion and by the time I ran to get to her he ran away from her.  Just awful. He laid in our laps all the time, we snuggled with him daily, played with him, rewarded him all the time and still ended up like this.  It's such a hard decision but I know it has to be done.


Jessica 
December 21, 2014

Pat; LeeLou's mom, I am so sorry for you. Ill be praying for you and I know the heartache. We put my dog to sleep Dec 2 for aggression. It hurts but I pray you have peace.


Phyllis  DeGioia
December 19, 2014

Pat, my heart aches for you. I found significant sympathy among my friends for the "bad" dog, as most of them were afraid of getting bitten or that I would fall down the stairs again. I too wish I had done things better, different, but I didn't. Hindsight is always 20-20, but we make decisions based on what we know at the time. So when we should have done more, we may not have been knowledgeable enough to know we should have been doing more. I would be terrified to have company come over knowing my dog had killed someone else's dog in my home. What a heartbreaking time. Please take care of yourself and your broken heart. I totally understand.


Pat 
December 17, 2014

Tomorrow I will put my beautiful Leelou down.  She killed another dog that was brought to our house.  There is so much sympathy for those that lose the "good" dogs, but none for those that lose the "bad".  Leelou wasn't a bad dog.  She was loving, funny, smart and protective.  I should have protected her better, I should have done a million things better.  But, the one thing I did well was to love her with my whole heart. Thank you for your article.  I feel like you understand.  My husband and daughter do not.  They don't agree with putting her down.  But I cannot take the chance that she will hurt someone or something else.  I love her.  And my heart is broken.


Janice 
December 16, 2014

Two weeks ago today I put down my beloved Corgi. Her name is Lexi.  I posted my story so if you want to read it I think its still on this site. December 2. A day I will never forget. To all of you fellow dog owners going through this heartwreching time I am so sorry. To the person who voiced his opinion on euthanasia its saddens me to think that someone would make such a heartless remark such as you have. I loved my fur baby very much I took very good care of her got her help to overcome her mental issues but nothing worked. I always had a fear if I were to become ill and couldn't be here for her that she would be mistreated and abused since no one else could take care of her but me. My family would have had to give her away. That's right sir, I have a husband and three adult children and they could not even feed her without getting growled at or bit.  So after over one year of thoughtful consideration and research on other alternatives I had to let her go. So please never judge another's actions unless you have walked in our shoes. I come to this site for comfort and reassurance that what I had to do was right. Its not kind to make anyone on here feel worse than we already do. We are all suffering enough with this. Perhaps if you researched the subject and educate yourself about it your thoughts on it would change. I sincerely hope that no other posts such as yours would be given the benefit of being allowed to be posted on this site. It serves no useful purpose to anyone coming on here for advice. [Editorial note: This comment appears to be in response to that posted by Patrick below.] 


Phyllis DeGioia 
December 16, 2014

Kristen, I also used a sedative at home before we left. I actually gave him a bit more than they suggested and it still wasn't enough. He had to have another sedative at the vet before they could euthanize him, so don't be surprised if it works that way for you too. Hopefully, it won't. I'm sorry you're experiencing this terrible situation, and human safety has to come first. I know all too well how it feels as though I'd failed. My heart is with you.


Karl 
December 15, 2014

Hi there.. I too have a big decision to make.. My boy cypress has always been a very loving dog of adults and people he meets.. He has no issues with biting adults.. But he has always attacked cats and other dogs even the birds if they land on the lawn.. Now I have recently moved house and there is a 4 year old child living on the same property and within the first few days he tried to attack her... I'm guessing the best decision is to put him down as I just can't afford to take the risk that he will eventually get her.. Just sucks cause he's so loving of adults and wouldn't ever bite one.. It's just something bout other animals and small kids.. I'm heart broken cause he's such a good dog but I can't take the risk.. Nothing I do is going to make this any easier but I just feel so guilty ending his life ova 1 thing.... He's a pitbull x ridgeback.. I've cried for days over this cause it's the hardest decision to make ever.. What are your thoughts on this..


Kristen 
December 15, 2014

Sometimes it's nice to know you're not alone.  We rescued our dog about 3 years ago.  We are having him put down for his aggression towards people in 4 days.  Like many of you, we have been dealing with trainers, veterinarian behaviorists, medication etc.  None of it has helped.  Our boy has bitten 3 times over the past 3 years.  One of them was myself.  He has severe anxiety when around even 1 person he doesn't know.  As a result of that and the bites, he's crated whenever someone comes over our house.  Unfortunately, we don't ALWAYS know when someone is coming over and over the summer right after we found out I was pregnant with our first child he bit me when an unexpected visitor showed up at the door and I was trying to get him to stop charging at the door to get to the person on the other side.  The behaviorist and trainers all agreed that our dog will never be able to be trusted around people, even on the medication and with the training, and that the escalation of him now transferring the aggression towards us, is sign that none of the treatment and training is working, and that the most humane thing to do is to have him put down.  Well...we are now 7 weeks away from our baby arriving, and while there haven't been any more bites, he does still try whenever someone is here, and as pregnant as I am, it's hard for me to get myself to safety if the fedex guy delivers a package.  Our dog almost bit my face the other day when fedex dropped off a box.  We've known since the summer this is what we have to do, and we've been procrastinating because we love our dog, but with a baby on the way we know in our hearts this is what has to be done.  I don't think I can even safely bring him into the vets office, so will be asking for something to sedate him at home before we bring him in for the safety of everyone in the office when we bring him in.  It's so hard to feel like we haven't failed him...because that is exactly what it feels like.  I KNOW we haven't and that he is mentally ill...but that doesn't change how this all feels.


Natalie 
December 11, 2014

Sarah,  you are not only.  As I lie here trying to go to sleep, I thought of my beautiful Sandy that used to sleep right next to me.  I don't why I'm having a hard time tonight.  I have cried like this for 2 weeks.  It will be 3 weeks tomorrow I got the horrible call at work from my husband about the fight between Sandy & Holly, our dachshund/beagle.  They always had to be separated by baby gate and doors always shut.  This had gone on for 4 years.  The vet said the fight was to the death.  Little Holly was seriously hurt. She is great now. In fact she and our beagle are like new dogs.  They go any where in the house.  No gates or shut doors.  Holly has so much energy and wants to play.  My husband noticed Milo doesn't sleep as much.  The stress and tension is gone. We didn't realize how much of it there was and how it affected the other 2 dogs as well.  I miss my beautiful and loving Sandy who we had for 10 years,  my heart is broken & aches, but I believe we made the right decision.  She had become so anxious all the time, crying a lot, wanting to be by my side constantly.  Just before the shot, I held her head and looked in her eyes and told her no more crying or anxiety.  She is at peace now.


Katjea 
December 11, 2014

Hello, I've been reading the comments on this site for some time now while I deliberate the actions I need to take with my beautiful 9 year old, English Springer Spaniel male, Logan.  This site has been so helpful in this process.  I am so surprised that there are so many people faced and suffering with this horrible situation of having to make such a brutal decision about ending the life of someone they love, their chosen family...  I am getting very close to having to make this very decision. Logan has been getting progressively worse and although he is somewhat predictable in his "moods", his growling, dominance and attacks on my other dog are increasing in frequency.  He has now started charging me, snapping at me and trying to bite me when he is in a "mood". Could anyone tell me if they have had any success with medication???  I am taking him to the vet today to see if an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication will take the edge off. Any kind of feedback or advice would be most appreciated.  I don't know if I am trying to fool myself into thinking this could get better, I know I am not yet at the place where I can euthanize him........but it is getting so scary in my home with him behaving this way. I have also tried dog trainers, working him on a puller and walking him upwards of twice a day. Thank you and god bless you all who have dealt with this same situation or are going through it now. Katjea


Phyllis DeGioia 
December 11, 2014

Dear Patrick, Given that the dog was neutered when I adopted him, I was not practicing any form of eugenics, but instead was practicing appropriate  zero pet population growth. I believe it was to society's benefit that he did not reproduce. At any rate, I disagree strongly that this was murder, which carries an intent of harm. He had severe anxiety, which is a form of mental illness, and euthanizing him gave him peace as well as providing safety for the people he'd bitten, or would bite again, including me.


Patrick 
December 11, 2014

You killed a dog because of its nature.    This is not able to be rationalized.  It's basically a form of reverse eugenics-selecting for the weak and is tragic and perverse.


Elle 
December 11, 2014

Hello, this is the first site I came upon which I can truly connect to. You are all compassionate and loving owners, which is why you are here. I am still in shock and quite a bit of pain when our 3 1/2 185 lb Great Dane/Mastiff rescue brutally bit my arm and hand while my husband and I were watching TV. It looked worse than a shark bite; over 50 stitches and a badly fractured thumb, after four days I finally am trying to  process this. There was no question what we had to do, no way to try him in another home or risk him hurting our neighbors or attack our other dog, whom he had already attacked and shook like a rag doll. He survived. We tried, like many of you, numerous methods- he had even made it to advanced obedience school and thrived at doggie daycare. We installed fences, bought special food for his sensitive stomach and worked with behavioral specialists. We acquired him at three months old, malnourished, sickly and had been in a laundry room for that portion of his life. We gave him all the love we could, and still could not save him. To those of having gone through this, my heart goes out to you; I know it is broken as ours are, but it was the ONLY thing to do. To those who struggle with this decision, there will be a point and you will know it's the only thing you can do. I wish all of you the best.


Janice 
December 11, 2014

@Gabriella and Alli. Its been a week and two days for me. I still come visit this site when I need a little encouragement. I wish you both peace in your hearts this  is not an easy road to travel. But maybe in some small way knowing others are going thru the same pain and grief and we are not alone, gives strength to us. That can make all the difference.


Hannah 
December 10, 2014

We had our rescue, a beagle cockerspaniel mix, put down for aggression right before thanksgiving. He was two when we got him. We had tried behavior modification and medications. Even though he had made a lot of improvement he was still very unpredictable and dangerous to anyone/anything he came in counter with and it was controlling every aspect of our lives. I know it was the right thing to do, but that doesn't make it any easier. He was such a sweetheart to my husband and I. Little things like finding one of his balls or even one of his hairs makes me cry. The pain is unbearable at times but it makes me feel better knowing I'm not alone. My heart goes out to anyone who has gone through this and hope you find peace.


Sara 
December 9, 2014

I'm glad I found this website. But I see that most of your dogs are aggressive towards humans, my dog (that I have not yet euthanized) is extremely aggressive towards other dogs. Even when he was a small puppy he would try to viciously attack other dogs. He was able to live with my pack of dogs (it usually takes about 2 months to introduce him to another dog) peacefully (for the most part), however, lately he has begun to attack one of my other dogs for no reason at all. And once he starts fighting he does not stop, he has killed a dog before. So I'm faced with a decision about what to do with him. He is putting all of my other dogs at risk. He is unpredictable and dangerous... but only to other dogs. That's why this is so difficult. Is it fair to find him an only dog home, or would he be better off euthanized? When he's on his own he doesn't seem unhappy or anxious, he's actually quite happy. I just don't know what to do. My family is telling me that he's a risk and should probably be euthanized. But I saved his life (and he saved mine), and I don't want to take it back. But even if I found him an only dog home he would still be a risk. If he ever got out of the yard or something he would attack any dog he saw. Who would want a dog like that? I just don't know what to do. I'm sorry this post is long and poorly written.


Alli 
December 9, 2014

Last Wed night our beagle, Bo, bit a friend's little girl on the face, resulting in 5 stitches. We had Bo euthanized last Thursday morning. We know this was the right thing to do but that's certainly not making it any easier. I'm absolutely crushed, angry, feel guilty that my dog harmed someone, etc. Bo had a short fuse when it came to little people, but my hubby and I were never recipients of anything but love and affection from him. We rescued Bo at 1.5-2 years old, he was previously neglected and abandoned. Despite what Bo did my love for him didn't change, I miss him desperately. We had done professional behavioral training and saw major improvement in so many areas but not little people aggression. So, now, 5 days later, we are dealing with the insurance issues and praying the friendship between the little girl's family and us survives.


Gabriella 
December 7, 2014

Tomorrow I am taking our much loved Smokey to be put down.   Reading this article and all the comments makes me feel we are not alone.    Adopted from the shelter at six months he was always my problem child.    But with lots of training he is now a really well trained dog.    Unfortunately, he has an extremely high prey drive and has killed numerous squirrels and cats.   Two summers ago he attacked a child in our yard.   That incident was somewhat provoked by the child as he was trying to pull him out from under a table.   Which is how we justified it.   Now this past weekend he attacked my nine year old niece for no reason other than he thought she was in his territory.   She had a three inch laceration on her face requiring many stitches.   I fear that he could permanently damage a small child.  I've been walking him with a basket muzzle for the last three years.  We love him and will miss him very much.   I am sad


Jeannie 
December 6, 2014

Thank you Janice for your response and the sharing of your journey.  It was so very helpful.


Paul 
December 6, 2014

Thank you everyone for your stories and supportive messages.  Yesterday evening my wife Annie and I put our dog Rocky down.  As she noted in her post yesterday, we purchased a house, got Rocky, and became engaged within a short time frame.  We truly were starting to build our life together and Rocky was a big part of that.   Last night and today have been very tough.  My wife is at work and I have had a typical Saturday of doing chores around the house; except today my little helper and shadow isn't with me.  I miss him so much and can't stop thinking about how he would be snuggling between my legs right now if he was here while I type this message.   There are so many things I miss about him and my heart feels like a part of it is missing without him here.  I take solace in everyone's posts as I know we, and myself in particular, were ignoring the fact that despite 1.5 years of work with a behavioral veterinarian and a number of different medications his anxiety and aggressive behavior really wasn't improving.  Bites had gone down but this honestly was more due to us avoiding walking by him closely when he was on anothers lap (he was protective of whoever he was snuggling with) and sitting in different locations when in the same room.  These posts reassure me that we made the right decisions and I know my wife and I will make it through this tough time.  Today though I am really struggling and am overwhelming sad.


Joanne Moore 
December 5, 2014

I have been fostering a year old Pit Bull for a month. He was dropped off at my house.  Very sweet and loving little boy.  I'm trying to rehome, because he does not get along with my elderly dog and she has to be my priority right now as I will lose her son.  So I'm trying to re home this Pitt.  In the interim, I'm training him so that he's a great pet for someone. I've given him full body hugs, stuck my hand in his mouth, held him by the collar, put my face very close to his face, if he acts up or will not settle down, he needs to go in the crate.  Usually he does, but not happily unless it's for a P-Butter bone or his food 2 X per day.  He's running off the leash and is worn out.  Tonight he was acting up.  I went to get him by the collar to put him in the crate.  He growled and struck at my hand.  I pulled back in time.  I did a little time out for each of us, then went to do it again.  He growled this time again.  My son was bitten by a GS when he was six.  He had 120 stiches in his face.  Nearly half of his forehead was gone but we have a great plastic surgeon that night.  I am not a fan of biters.  For many good reasons.  I cannot, in good conscience, rehome this dog.  What if he bites someone's child, niece, etc.  I'm thinking euthanasia, but he's only a year old.  Do I have to wait for him to bite someone before I go that far?  I'm really upset and very stuck right now. I tossed an toy in his crate that he went after, so he's been in there ever since.  Usually he whines.  He has not made one single sound.  Something just went hay wire with this dog and I do not know what to do.  I don't trust him and I certainly do not trust him around my 13 year old frail little girl. Help?


Lorelei 
December 5, 2014

Thank you Janice. I too find comfort in the fact I'm not the only one dealing with this situation. I've made an appointment for Dexter for next week. Yesterday was a the final straw for us not only did he severely bite my husband later on in the evening he lunged at me several times when I told him to go lay down. I'm tired of living in fear of him doing something, having muzzle him in public and living with the worry of who's going to get bitten next.


Janice 
December 5, 2014

To Annie Jeannie and Lorelei. I too am comforted that I read these posts and grateful I came across this site. The vets have been so helpful. I am sure you all have already read my posts. Its been only 3 days since Lexi has passed and I am still coming to terms with what I had to do. I found out years after we got her she probably came from a puppy mill.  Its an outrage. I am feeling so guilty for this even though I know deep down I had no choice. I wish you all comfort and peace. Its very hard to end a life that we worked so hard to help make better. All the love and money in the world just cant change some things.


Annie 
December 5, 2014

Thank you so much for this article; it is exactly what I needed right now. We are putting our dog Rocky to sleep today. We got Rocky as a puppy. The summer we got Rocky, we also got engaged and bought our first home together, so this dog was such a big part of my husband and I starting our lives together and becoming a family. Rocky had always been anxious and startled easy as a puppy. We later found out when he was about 6 months old that he is deaf. We were so in love with him already, we decided to keep him. We were prepared to learn hand signs and learn to train a deaf dog. He learned signs quickly and was able to sit, lay down, etc. However, his anxiety and startle reflex soon turned into aggressive behavior, including growls and nips. This progressed to bites, breaking skin and deep puncture wounds. After consulting with our vet, we began working with a dog behaviorist. She was wonderful and never out of ideas to help redirect his aggressive behavior. Unfortunately, all of the behavior modifications and several medications did not help. His being deaf, on top of having major anxiety make him an especially difficult dog to treat. His aggression continued to worsen. People do not want to come to our house anymore. My husband and I have been bitten countless times and carry many scars.  After a very severe and unprovoked bite last week, we had a long discussion with our dog behaviorist and have decided it’s time to put him to sleep. I am devastated but I take comfort in reading this and knowing we are making the right choice.


Jeannie 
December 5, 2014

I want to say how much it meant to me to come across this web site today.  We have just made the appointment to have our dog euthanized in 3 days. We adopted Zoe 3 years ago from a shelter when she was 2 years old and have loved her dearly.  She was an aggressive dog with other dogs from the start and even with training that never improved. We have learned to live with that.  She has never bitten a dog but certainly lunges at them if given a chance.  We never give her the chance.  She growled at our grandchildren the first time they met her.  We crate her when they visit now.  She has food aggression with our cats. We have found ways to deal with that.  When people come to our door she lunges at the door and gets loud and aggressive and we have to remove her to another room to answer the door.  She continues to become more and more aggressive and now wants to protect us every minute.  She growls at our adult children when they hug us hello or goodbye. We are managing this too but for the past few months she is threatened by anyone who comes to the house and even those she knows.  Now it is no longer just a growl or a bark but she is lunging at some and it is all unpredictable when it will happen.  She is a well exercised dog and she is very well cared for and in good health but I am growing more and more fearful.  She lunged at visiting family members on 3 separate times this week.  It is breaking our heart.  I appreciated hearing from others who state that some dogs are mentally ill.  She had lived outdoors neglected her first 3 years, never socialized and fended for herself a lot. We can't change that. She is fearful and anxious and we have eased some of the fears but it is still there. We have decided to not wait until there is an actually bite before we act.  She is a mixed breed and has strong guarding and herding instincts.  I am also feeling like a failure that we have been unable to change these instincts but in my heart I know we can't.  I kept thinking as long as there wasn't a bite we could manage but after reading all of these posts I know with my whole heart that a bite is coming and I shouldn't wait for that. Know what you are getting when you adopt an older dog.  Know their history. Sometimes there is no fixing things no matter how hard you try, and money you spend.


Lorelei 
December 4, 2014

Thank you for writing this piece it's helped me to come to a very difficult decision regarding my dog. He's a 8 year old JRT who we've had for a year in that time my husband and I have lost count of how many times we've been bitten. Unprovoked over something as simple as touching him. He was badly abused for the first 7 years of his life and I've hung on desperately hoping it would get better it's only gotten worse. My description of him would be 0 to 60 one second he's fine and the next he's ripped your hand open. Trainers, vet visits and meds have done nothing to help. He viciously bit my husband again this morning when he went to pick something up. I couldn't rightfully surrender or hand him over to someone else knowing what he is like as his previous owners did to us. As much as it kills me to do it the time has come that I need to let go and do the right thing for him and us before he hurts someone else.


Janice 
December 4, 2014

Thank you Rene for your kind words. I didn't see your post till later.  But I wanted to acknowledge it. Thank you


Janice 
December 3, 2014

Thank you Carrie for commenting on my post. Your story of Izzie is eerily familiar to my Lexi. Lexi never injured anyone seriously either just nipped and a few times bit me and left puncture wounds. But what I wanted to say is today all I can see in my mind is how she looked so peaceful and I don't remember the ever seeing her in a peaceful state. But I cry because I feel like somehow I failed her maybe I just didn't do enough. Even after vet tranquilized her she nipped at my poor daughter who was crying her eyes out and wanted to touch her and comfort her. Your words have helped me tonight to feel validated and less guilty for putting her down. I am still sad beyond words and I will cry until I have no more tears. I hope someday we can overcome the fear we as a family now have of being bitten by a pet so that perhaps Lexis death would not be in vain and we can help another poor dog by adoption. We learned some hard lessons especially me.


Carrie 
December 3, 2014

Janice, my sincere condolences for your loss. Reading your posts brings back the dark time in July when I had to put down my 6 year old corgi for uncontrollable anxiety and aggression. She hadn't seriously injured anyone, but we were out of options to help her and her bites were increasing in severity. I couldn't bear the daily stress any longer; it was no longer IF she'd hurt someone badly, it was WHEN. The most painful part was seeing her afterwards and she looked more at peace than I'd seen in years. You made the right choice for yourself, your family, and Lexi. It'll hurt for a while and you'll cry until you can't force out another tear, but eventually the pain will diminish. It still hurts to think of Izzie, but it would've hurt more putting her down after she seriously hurt someone. Good luck, my thoughts are with you.


Janice 
December 3, 2014

Yesterday I put my beloved corgi Lexi to rest. Its heartbreaking.  I stayed with her thru the whole ordeal. I hugged her close as she took her last breath. I can only say its extremely painful to go thru and afterwards feel even worse. I really wish things could have been different.  I took good care of her almost to a fault. My life evolved around her and my family. I got her as a 7 week pup from a pet store. My husband was home with her all day everyday until he passed away in 2010. I loved her with all my heart and still do. Now I pray that the pain will soften as its unbearable today. If you have to do this because your pet is not right its the right thing to do although very painful. My baby died in peace with me near her better that way then if she really harmed someone then had to be put down because of that. She died with dignity and somewhere deep inside me I know she is now at peace.


Renee 
December 3, 2014

I just want to say how sorry I am for your loss.  We had a dog for almost a year that had food aggression/anxiety.  I have 3 young kids and he did a total of 8 bites.  4 of them were breaking the skin.  99% of the time he was an awesome loving dog.  But the last 2 times he bit there was no way to prevent it and it was out of the blue.  No food was being eaten, but it was just nearby.  That was enough for him to snap.  I couldn't risk my kids getting hurt anymore.  Luckily, in my case, I found a GREAT rescue and he is being fostered currently and eventually be adopted to a family without kids with them knowing his complete history. We let him go a few days ago and we are heartbroken.  We didn't put him to sleep, but just not having him around anymore is so difficult.


Susannah Auwerda 
November 30, 2014

Thank you for writing this article. It has to be done.


Alisha 
November 29, 2014 

Hello. I am so glad I came across this post. I literally do not know what to do with my dog. He is about 5 years old and is a Chihuahua. He Is such a cranky dog. He has snapped at people the last 2 years and recently bit my fiance's friend in the face. Not to bad. More bruised then anything. He was originally my 5 year old's dog and he is so protective of her. He recently snapped at her as well. He growls anytime its time to go in his kennel and I never trust to leave him out when people come over. He is mean to my lab and always snaps and growls. I tried re-homing him but no luck. I know he should not be re-homed. I guess it made me feel better then sending him to the pound. We are ready for our second hunting lab to be bought but have not bought due to this mean guy. He is so sweet and loving on his own terms. When no other dogs are around. That is what is killing me inside is knowing how sweet he can be. Any ideas? My fiance is done and said he has to go. No dog is worth my relationship or my kids getting hurt.


Deborah 
November 28, 2014

My 11 year old dachshund is aggressive to other dogs, strangers, my grandchildren and now me. I really hate to put him down, but I am so very afraid of what he may do next. He has nipped at others, including my husband, but not me, at least until two days ago, he literally tired to bite my finger off. It has made me scared of him and what he may do next. I am know that the best thing to do is to put him down, but it just hurts so bad to think about even doing that. My heart is breaking, but I just cannot trust him anymore and what he may do next. He was the best birthday gift I had ever received 11 years, but now things have changed. It is a shame that I will have to do this especially since my birthday is December 2nd. I cannot stop crying thinking of being without him. My mind knows what it should do, but my heart says differently.


Peg 
November 27, 2014

We took in an 8 month old dog. We are his 5th owner. We've had him since 11/25. In that time he has unprovoked attacked my Corso, our elderly Corso rescue and my 9 yr old Rat Terrier and seems like he would kill the cats. This is all out of the blue - he just snaps and attacks.


Jennifer 
November 26, 2012

'm so sorry for the loss everyone is facing with their dogs. I am doing a research paper on aggressive dogs and how they can be be treated or even cured. After reading through these comments, it doesn't appear so easy anymore. The recommended treatment is to have the dog thoroughly checked by your vet and then to contact a behaviorist to then begin a treatment program. Reading through all the comments it seems eveyone has done this and felt as a last resort they had to put the animal down. What a horrible decision to make! In all the cases I have read through it was the right thing to do. Safety of our children and ourselves should be a priority. Sometimes the dog just can't be fixed and thank you all for giving the dog a chance before you had to make that decision. It really is what's best for the owner and the dog. I'm so sorry for your losses.


Janice 
November 25, 2014

Thank you for your support it is helping me come to terms with what I may have to do. I am going to give this one more small shot and put her back on her meds along with dog valium. Utimately I know deep inside what I need to do. Just have, to find the right time and the, right way. Thank you so much. I just love her so much.  No one else here understands that. I will update you in the near future.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
November 25, 2014

Janice, From your description of your dog, the fact that she is biting all of your family members, and that you are no longer enjoying her due to the stress of trying to keep everyone safe, it is time. Quality of life has to be for everyone, the dog (she sounds anxious and fearful) and you (you are stressed) and your family (they need to feel safe).  I would say that right now, none of you has any quality of life. Putting your dog to sleep to keep you and your family safe is ok.  Putting your dog to sleep so that you are not stressed and walking on eggshells all of the time, is ok.  You have tried, to fix your dog.  She can’t be fixed and she can’t be re-homed.  You know what the right answer is and I am telling you, it is ok.  You are a good person who deserves to live safely with your family.


Janice 
November 25, 2014

Thank you for taking notice of my post and sending me a message. Its a cry for help. I am still deciding what to do. Any further training or behavior specialist is out of the question. I know what needs to be done but fearful of how and if I can deal with my decision once she is gone. I am not sure that I wont regret it. I feel like I am a horrible person putting my dog down. I guess I am looking for someone to say hey its ok to do this.


Phyllis DeGioia 
November 25, 2014

Cynthia, I'm sorry for your loss, and understand not wanting to talk much about it in the immediate aftermath. You did give Petie a great life! It's possible that there was a medical condition that worsened his aggression, which might account for that state of "being off." It doesn't matter why, though - it only matters what you did to try and work with him to improve it, and you worked hard towards that end.  Petie is very lucky that you did. You are definitely not alone in this. Please take care of yourself.


Phyllis DeGioia 
November 25, 2014

Hi Janice, You did just post on here. I'm sorry for your situation. I loved my aggressive dog deeply too. It seems to me that you have made every effort and covered the bases: medical checkups, tried more than one trainer, changed her diet, and put her on medication that was not effective enough. Did you try a veterinary behaviorist, in addition to trainers? You say you cannot deal with the stress any more, and that it's a terrible situation. I suggest you listen to whatever your gut instincts are telling you. I cannot tell you how much easier life was for me after I no longer had to worry if my dog would bite me (most likely) or someone else - I was really walking on eggshells around him. I wish you luck in making your decision.


Phyllis DeGioia 
November 25, 2014

Jennifer, It's a difficult situation, and I'm sorry you are experiencing it. It's a terrible thing to be in-between a rock and a hard place. Many dogs dislike children, and those dogs without bite inhibition should not live with them. The safety of your children is most important. Ask yourself is how happy is Boo? What is his quality of life like living with children? Is he happy more often than unhappy? Also ask yourself how you would feel if Boo seriously injured your child. Would your child be forgiving if he or she had facial scars forever?  You were lucky this time (in that you didn't say the bites were severe). A big dog can inflict some serious, permanent damage in an instant. Given that you feel you cannot risk injury to your children - and I agree on that - you need to do something. The other option is to rehome him with someone he knows, but I suspect that would only increase his stress and cause him to be more likely to bite.  Only you can decide what to do, so examine your heart and figure out what is most important to you. He will always have a piece of your heart no matter what you do. He knows you love him.


Jennifer 
November 24, 2014

My Boo is a chow/lab/pit mix and will be 13 years old in December. My husband and I have had him since the day he was born and I was just 15 at the time. He was the runt from my mom's dogs 1st litter of puppies, his fur momma passed away just two months ago at 13 and a half. I am still dealing with the hurt of that. He has been a huge part of my life and I am struggling with the guilt of what I feel is right. Tonight he bit my 17 month old son in the face, not once to warn but several times to injure him. He was simply patting him on the back. My dog has no tolerance for my children and I knew it would be a problem many years before I had children. He has had a few different behavior issues going back to when he was a puppy. He is a nervous dog and used to pee on himself or you when you would approach him or pet him. It wasn't an excited pee either, it was fear or nerves. That behavior stopped several years ago out of no where. He has a history of dog aggression too but that let up as he got older. He has also gotten aggressive with us when he has been scolded, nipping at shoes but never landing a bite. That didn't happen often but something that has to be considered. A lot of these things cleared up after receiving tips from vets and trainers. Even through all of his frustrating behavioral issues, we both always referred to him as our child and treated him so. He would sleep in our bed every night and cuddle with me. If I couldn't sleep, I just needed my Boo there to spoon with and I'd fall fast asleep. He has been thru everything my family has. From the struggles in the past, to the stability and happiness now. Rewind to 2011 when his world was turned upside down. He has never enjoyed children and always looked very annoyed by them. I knew this would be a problem years before my daughter was born and jokingly used to laugh that I could not have children until he was no longer alive. My daughter is 3 years old now, and my son is one and a half. Both of them are very gentle and they love him very much, but the feeling has never been mutual.  I Heiactually pretty lucky that they are so in awe of him, not hair and tail pulls like many children their age are. But I fully believe my children ruined his life, it's very heart breaking. He has distanced himself from my husband and I because the kids are always around. He has lost most of his hearing and is beginning to lose his vision. In addition to that he has developed arthritis and grows fatty tumors that we have paid to have removed multiple times with new growths appearing shortly after. He is not my happy prince that he used to be. He was my first baby and my heart just hurts. I can't let him cause further harm to my children, they do not hurt him. My son is a nuisance to him because he was run excitedly toward him just to greet him but that's the worst. I try to keep him away from them at all times because I have feared this for 3 years now. At his age I don't feel like any training will improve his behavior with his hearing loss and other medical issues. He isn't knocking on deaths door but he isn't in the best shape. My heart is broken... I know it is the right decision but it feels so wrong. I cannot risk him inflicting more harm to my children. No one wins here, they love him so much and so do we.


Janice Trowbridge 
November 24, 2014

How can I post on here. I need help. I have a terrible situation with my dog. She is a 9 year old corgi. I had various trainers come in changed her diet, tried medication. I have to put her in the basement room when we have anyone over and on holidays. She lunges and nips at all family members. I love her deeply but I cannot deal with the stress anymore. She has been examined many times for medical conditions which may contribute to her aggression and nothing is physically wrong with her. She is a pedigree I think she may have been inbred. I feel horrible even thinking about putting her down I need some support in making this awful decision. Please help me.


Cynthia 
November 24, 2014

My husband and I just put our aggressive Jack Russell mix down about a week a half ago. It was a heart breaking decision and I still wonder if I did the right thing. My husband keeps reminding me that we did. Petie came along in my life over 10 years ago. An old friend of mine adopted him from a shelter. He was a 9 month old Jack Russell mix. He had been brought back to the shelter twice at that point. Over time, my friend would tell me Petie bit him and so on. I saw that my friend was a bit rough with him at times and thought I would bite you too. Petie was never aggressive with me and until the end never was. When Peite was 3 I told my friend that my husband and I would take him bc he was not taking great care of him and pretty abusive. He is no longer our friend by the way. At this point, Petie had shown many aggressive tendencies towards others besides myself. He would become aggressive and try to bite if you touched his food, toys, or tried to mess with him when he didn't want attention. Over time, we saw Vets and behaviorists and his behavior did not improve. The last behaviorist who is very well known told us it would be best to put him down. I cried the entire way home. That was 5 years ago. We adopted another dog even though Petie was not a fan of other dogs. They eventually became best buddies and his behavior improved for a short bit. We now have 2 children; a 3 1/2 year old and a 19 month old. He has bitten my husband numerous times for no reason. The bites started out as a warning and progressed to wanting to do harm. It seemed like he would go into a rage and then snap out of it and try to be sweet. That was the hard part. He would be sweet and loving and then just snap. It was like he didn't know what he was doing. Over the last few months, something changed in him. Well, he lost most of his hearing, but seemed off. He tried to bite my oldest and growled at my youngest. We kept them separated 99% of the time. The last straw came one week before he was put to sleep. My husband let him out to and he started wondering down the street. My husband went after him and found him in my neighbors front yard. My husband said he seemed off and not himself at all. He told him to get back to the house and Petie charged and attacked him. My husband was able to wrestle him to the ground and grab him by his scruff and back legs. He brought him back to the house and set him on the front porch. He tried to continue his attack. My husband was able to get him again and put him over the fence. He said something was different and he didn't intend on stopping until he hurt my husband. We talked it over for a few days and decided putting Petie to sleep was our only option. We couldn't rehome him knowing full well his bite history. We couldn't find a place for aggressive dogs because he would be in a kennel and he hates that. He chewed through a metal crate to get out before. We did it at home where he loved to be and he was in his bed. I feel like we took him and gave him a great life. He had a huge back yard to run and play in and a best buddy. He wasn't always aggressive and mean. He could be so loving and sweet, but he was becoming so unpredictable and dangerous. I know we did the right thing because I could never forgive myself if he did that to one of my girls. I just miss him and wish there was another way. Thank you for this article and the comments. It made me realize I am not alone. sorry, if I rambled. This is the first time I have really talked or wrote about it. It has been too difficult.


Natalie 
November 23, 2014

Thank you all of you who have made supportive and caring comments.  I don't think I could tolerate mean and nonsympathetic words.  It is a hard decision a dog owner has to make.  I wouldn't wish this situation on anyone.  After reading the above and the comments, I feel a little better knowing that I am not alone.  Thank you, Mar for the peace and blessing.  I will bookmark this page to read in the future often when I think about my loved one, Sandy.


Wendy 
November 23, 2014

One month ago this week, my rescue attacked me, unprovoked.  This article was very therapeutic.  He was a beautiful dog and could be very loving, but there was something inside of him that just snapped.  As you noted too, I had no remorse putting him down.  For me, it was not only my safety, but the safety of my family, neighbors and townspeople that made the decision final.  I'm glad I'm here - had it not been for the valiant efforts of a fellow passerby, I would not be here today.  He not only bit me, but tried to drag me into the bushes to complete his task.  As I screamed for help, a man ran out of the post office across the street to twist his collar, stopping his breathing.  It was the only way he would release his grip on me.  It was a horrific incident and I'm still skittish around dogs his size and bigger.  But I'm still a dog lover and it hasn't stopped me from researching a better breed for myself and adopting one better suited for my lifestyle and needs.  I pick him up in 2 weeks


Amy 
November 23, 2014

Hi there, I just found your post while searching google for some sort of answer or comfort I did the right thing and I just wanted to say Thank you!! Last night we had our Jack Russell of 8 years euthanised. He had been getting progressively worse over the last year, biting and snapping for no reason, sometimes he would attack me if I got upset. It was like he didn't recognise me at all. He had also began to be child aggressive which we noticed when my God daughter came round, I just couldn't run the risk of him attacking a child. I feel awful for having to resort to euthaniation, I feel guilty and like in some way I have betrayed Gizmo. But reading your post made me realise that I didn't do it just for my safety and others but that I did it for Gizmo, he had been getting worse and any intervention wasn't working. As much as it hurts like hell now I want to know I did the right thing and your post has helped that. Sorry for the rambling! 


Natalie 
November 22, 2014

I was so surprised to find this issue and discussion.  I just put my 10 year part pointer, part beagle (we thought) to sleep.  She was healthy and vibrant. She had attacked and tore up our dachshund/beagle 3-4 times.  Two of the fights ended very bloody and resulted in me & my son getting hurts and more recently my husband.  This was the most difficult decision I have made.  I loved Sandy, the pointer/beagle and she seemd to be more attached to me than my husband or son.  She placed her self as the alpha dog.  She bit a human or was mean.  But she hated Holly, the dachshund/beagle.  She got along with Milo, a male beagle.  Last Friday I was called by my husband.  I raced home and had never seen so much blood...and I am a nurse who has worked on an ambulance as an EMT. Sandy was always so anxious and had separation anxiety from me.  She would cry when I left the kitchen to just change my clothes, or go to the bathroom.  She was a hyperactive dog and for the past four years, we have had to keep gates up and doors shut keeping the two separated.  It has been so tense and nerve racking in this house hold. Euthanizing Sandy was against everything I believe.  I always said when I adopted a dog or purchased one, it was for the life of the dog and I would not get rid of a dog because they were an inconvenience.  I have been telling myself that giving her to someone would not have worked because her attachment to me and she might kill someone's cat or other animal.  After the first big fight we had someone take her and he brought her back in 10 minutes.  Sandy used her body to beat at the truck windows.  The guy admitted to punching her to settle her down. We even hired a trainer and she asked me if I would ever be able to trust Sandy around Holly. We are dealing with our choice.  I miss Sandy so much and poor little Holly has had to have 2 surgeries.  I truly believe we made the right choice.  But it's made me think differently about having dogs.  I love dogs so much, but I think after Holly & Milo pass, we will be "dogless" for awhile.


Phyllis DeGioia 
November 21, 2014

Hi Pogo, I'm sorry you were attacked. I presume your parents are the legal owners of the dog, and not you? In that case, what to do about the dog's behavior is their decision, although one would hope they would take family member's wishes into consideration. If you snuck out with the dog and did something against their preference, it would likely have a very adverse effect on your relationship with them, possibly permanently. My father gave away my dog when I was in high school and I never forgave him for it, and all these decades later I still get angry about it. I would not recommend doing anything without their explicit consent. Have you suggested a medical work up and consulting a veterinary behaviorist/certified trainer to your parents?


Pogo 
November 20, 2014

Our family dog just attacked me tonight and mom isn't considering putting her down or getting rid of her. I want to get rid of her without them knowing it was me i know it sounds bad but i believe that an animal should be put down if it shows any sign of aggression towards a human. However they would be so angry with me if they knew i was the one that took her in. I've been attacked by another dog almost exactly 1 yr ago while working at the pet shop and the animal control did nothing but put it under "quarantine"


Phyllis DeGioia 
November 20, 2014

Amy, I'm glad this piece, and all the comments, helped. It's a terribly difficult time. For me, the pain has not gone away entirely but it is significantly muted. I believe you will experience the same. I wish you peace with your grieving.


Amy 
November 19, 2014

This article brought both my husband and I solace. We had an 11 year old rescue that was so so sweet with all adults he met. However, he had many anxiety issues and he never was a fan of children. After many close calls with my son, he finally bit him in the face, completely unprovoked. My son bent over to look at him. No tail pulling, no tackling- just plain checking him out. It was by the grace of God that Duncan 'nicked' my son's face and caused a small scratch and some bruising but not enough harm to need stitches or any other lasting effects. Both my husband and I saw no choice but to euthanize him. I felt like I failed him.I felt like we should have tried to prevent the bit by locking him up while my son was awake or have him rehomed to a person without kids. But after reading this article, I see that it may have only caused more issues. Plus, what type of life is it for a dog to live locked away for the majority of the time? I know we had no other choice and my heart breaks but I know he is now free from his anxiety and we are free from fear. RIP Duncan.


Jackie Creviston 
November 13, 2014

An update on Buster...my big boy that I had to have euthanized for aggression...one of the hardest things I have ever done. As most of you know from my previous two postings, I had planned on spreading Buster's ashes in Montana on my way back to Washington.  Well, going into Virginia from North Carolina, for some reason I pulled off on a small side road that led to a large pasture.  I was drained and still emotionally spent from Buster's death and not being there for him in his final minutes.  So I pulled over to the side of this huge pasture and parked the RV for the night. In the morning, a pickup came up behind me and it was the owner of the property.  I looked and saw a house in the distance.  Anyways, he asked what I was doing there and I started crying (as I am now) and told him about my big boy and how I had to put him down.  The man was extremely sympathetic and I told him how guilty I felt because Buster always loved to run and run and he couldn't because I couldn't control him and we were  both going crazy in the rv.  The man said, "you are welcome to spread his ashes in the field and stay as long as you like."  It was a huge bean field that had been harvested. I thought about it and thanked him and decided, yes, this is where I would spread his ashes.  So Rosie, my jack Russell, and I walked this huge field spreading Buster's ashes with me talking to Buster like he was at my side and telling him what a wonderful boy he was and how sorry I was about what happened.  We must have spent an hour in that field.  As I approached the end of the field there were several trails off into the woods.  God how Buster loved to run the trails in Washington.  There was a particular spot where the sunlight shone on the leaves between the trees and that is where I spread the last of his ashes; after spreading some on the trails.  I look down one trail and could imagine him running towards me as he always did...so happy to be free to run.  I could see him running towards me (in my mind).  Then Rosie started barking even though there was nothing around.  I think Buster's spirit was with us and that is what she was barking at.  It was really surreal.  After she stopped barking, I looked to my side and saw a large boggy swamp.  Buster used to love running in the mud.  So my "big boy" has his fields, trails and muddy swamp to play in.  I felt in my heart him saying, it's okay Mama, I know you tried and I am happy.  Please don't grieve....I don't want you to be sad because I am in a better place.  I will be waiting for you at Rainbow Bridge with Angelica (my rescue kitty who I had to put down because of stomach cancer...my vet said the prognosis was extremely poor) and I can now run and play without having my world be smaller and smaller because I can't be trusted in my behavior.  Euthanizing an aggressive dog is SO HARD because it's not like he had a good long life...he was only 3 and 1/2 or he had a terminal illness but as the author said...sometimes dogs are mentally ill just like people.  There are still times like now where I tear up and when he and Rosie used to share my dinner plate after I finished eating...I put it down the other night for Rosie to lick and and starting crying because Buster would always patiently wait until he was his turn.  I am looking at moving to South Carolina so I won't be too far from that field and maybe someday I can visit it again...with Buster in my heart.  At the end of spreading his ashes, a middle age man came out of the house and I asked about the man who told me it was okay to spread Buster's ashes. He said that was his roommate and then he said, "boy, the dogs love it when we cut the beans...they run all over the place."  So run and run all over that field Buster.  God bless you for the few years I had of your undying loyalty and Mama will be looking for you when my time comes.  Angelica, show Buster around on the Rainbow Bridge.  I love you both.  Mama


Kim 
November 9, 2014

This past week, I had to lose a friend - my dog Ziggy. He could be such a sweet boy, but he was very unpredictable and after he bit me again, I knew that I had no choice. He was a rescue dog, abused at an early age and therefore, he never trusted people. I don't want to go into the details of the times he bit - it's too painful. But I do know that I did everything I knew how to help him and give him a good life. Sadly, his early abuse made him too anxious to ever fully relax and be a happy dog. I do hope he knows how much I loved him and that I wish I could have "fixed" him, though I know that wasn't possible. I feel so horribly guilty and keep thinking there was something else I could have done. I'll miss his brown eyes, floppy ears and goofy walk. Rest peacefully, my dear Ziggy. You took a piece of my heart when you left ... but I know will see you again.


Karen 
November 7, 2014

Thank you for this. My rescue dog is sweet as can be...most of the time. She has shown some aggressive signs scattered throughout hr two years with us. Two days ago she bit my one year old son in the face when I accidentally gave her a treat outside her treat area and he tried to take it or play with her. She is going to be put to sleep and I have not stopped crying and sobbing hysterically for 2 days. My son had surgery..over 25 stitches in his face and he will put put under anesthesia again in a week to remove them...and I am here all devastated that it was my fault that my very very anxious dog is going to be put to sleep because I put her into this dangerous situation. The guilt is awful..but I can't risk it again by accident. I love her more than anything and it is heartbreaking but it is what is best. Thank you for sharing your story and reading mine. I have to wait 8 more days (due to animal control quarantining her in our house despite being up to date on shots) and we are going to spoil her rotten for 8 days and say goodbye i our home. It is devastating.


Rylee 
November 7, 2014

I'm in a bit of a similar situation, I adopted 2 Akita adults, they are extremely well behaved, got along great with other dogs in the shelter, beautifully leash trained and all around great dogs. The female is definitely the more dominant of the two, (I believe she is the mother of the other) They were at my parents home with their dog (who they had no issues with) and completely out of nowhere the female attacked my parents dog. (the male Akita never joined the fight) She tore up my parents dog pretty badly, he is recovering. Then the next morning, somehow she got inside and went through the baby gate that was up to separate my parents dog from most of the house so he could heal. She attacked him again, much more severely the second time, and after we separated her she attacked my mom, and ripped her leg pretty badly. I have made the decision to euthanize her (the female Akita), I also know that the shelter had reported that she went after a cat and possibly a child (their information was not from a reliable source so they  tested her with other dogs and cats and adults and she showed no interest.) My biggest concern now is for how the male Akita (her son and lifetime companion) will react to being without her. (he has never shown any sign of aggression and responds very well to me in any situation, during the fights i told him to go sit in the other room and he did and stayed there until i went to get him, and he trusts me explicitly.)  Any suggestions on coping after she is gone? Or any advice really? I really wish I had any other option, other than putting her down, but there is no way I can re-home her or ever be able to trust her again..


Amy 
November 6, 2014

I'm in the same predicament as Sara, below. I have a wonderful 4 year old pointer/hound mix named Owen who is fantastic with people but very aggressive with dogs. Since I live in an urban environment, this has always been a challenge. But I hired an excellent trainer, who helped me manage his behavior. He also takes Prozac, and we've seen behavioral specialists in the past. Despite my extensive efforts, last week, while on a walk with my dog walker, Owen attacked another dog and caused her to go to the emergency vet. Fortunately it looks like the other dog will be all right. But I understand it was a pretty brutal attack (I won't even get into how the dog walker is to blame for this.) This is the second incident for Owen, as he previously attacked a pit bull after breaking through my fence in the back yard. This time, animal control was called, and they are currently doing a dangerous dog investigation. There is a chance they will allow a voluntary ban of Owen from my state, but I can't find a rescue to take him, and anyway I worry the next owners won't take as much effort to keep him and other dogs around him safe. I'm considering euthanasia, but I can't get past the idea that perhaps he could thrive somewhere in a rural setting, and I should look harder to find it. Owen is amazingly sweet with people and children, and is very calm and obedient around the house. He isn't made for the city, though...does anyone have any ideas I haven't thought of? I would appreciate any advice during this very difficult time.


rphockewyife
November 6, 2014

Your article speaks to me in a way that only someone in the same situation could understand.  It's only been 3 weeks after the attack on me by my beautiful brindle Plott Hound/Rhodesian.  I adopted him a little over a year ago.  he could be the sweetest boy and then turn on a dime with someone he'd get a bad feeling about.  He and I had a very close relationship - I was on my own while my husband travelled for his job.  During our morning stroll, he walked in front of me and I stepped on his paw.  He jumped up at me as if to say "ouch" but then he sat back down, looked at me as if to say "you witch" and attacked.  Luckily I was in a populated area and a man ran to save me.  He had to choke him to no breath to get him to stop mauling me.  It's horrid, but I didn't hesitate to put him down.  What if he hurt someone else?   I asked the vet and the SPCA where I adopted him if he could be rehabilitated and they all said "no." I still wrestle with the guilt and the "what ifs"  but in the end, I know I did the best I could do and there was nothing else that could have been done. But you're right, you feel almost betrayed for loving something so much only to be hurt by them.  That is my struggle.  But it won't stop me from getting another dog. 


mars 
November 5, 2014

I am so sorry for anyone who has to face this hearbreaking issue. I have nothing but deepest compassion for both human and animal in this situation. may every one of you know peace and be blessed.


Mary 
November 1, 2014

Thank you for that article I so needed it.


Jackie creviston 
November 1, 2014

Hi, it's me again.  I am the person who had animal control put down my Buster after he got loose from me....again...and nipped a worker in an RV Park.  I am having a really hard time processing his death.  It is a grief beyond words.  I know I did the right thing intellectually but emotionally Buster's death is killing me inside.  I miss him so much and I am blaming myself.  I am on a cross country trip and have been beating myself up saying I never should have taken this trip because it just made his anxiety and aggression worse. Evenings are the worst because that's when he would sleep with me and bring me his toys.  He should to love to have his butt scratched and look at me so lovingly.  However his passing has improved the quality of life for my elderly jack Russell and cat because he doesn't chase KitKat anymore and I have started walking Rosie more.  Again though, this is all intellectually.  Last night I cried and cried over him.  I also cried over my poor cat that had cancer and I had to put down in late August.  They say God never gives you more than you can handle but I am drained.  I recently got divorced and although I was fortunate in that the ex gave me the equity in the house, I am living in an older rv and traveling the country.  My pets were/are my children and I feel like I lost half my family.  I am estranged from both my adult children (by my choice as they are abusive beyond belief).  Buster was with me through my severe depression, loneliness, divorce but it was also a real stresser dealing with him.  Who wants to drug up your dog and put him in the bathroom while you drive cross country??  Last night while walking Rosie here on the North Carolina Outer Banks I saw a catastrophe in the making if I had Buster with me.  Some people on the other side of the road were walking a dog without a leash (some kind of pit bull mix).  The dog stopped, looked at Rosie and I but didn't cross the road.  If Buster had been there I can guarantee he would have pulled me to the ground and attacked that dog.  As it was, Rosie and I just continued on our walk.  I got back to the RV and cried my eyes out.  I know time will help but I feel so guilty not being there for him in his final hour when the animal truck drove away with him.  But I know that if I went, I would have chickened out of having the deed done.  However it was like I never really got to say goodbye until I picked up his body the next day.  I've never had to do this before and I just could not deal with a ticking time bomb, Mr. Jekyll and Hyde as someone said.  But God I miss that dog and his floppy ears and happy smile when we lived in our house and he would sun himself on the deck.  I have no choice but to go on but I am almost 60 years old and have had ALOT of bad sh&t happen in my life.  I just pray that he is in doggie heaven running in the fields and doing all the things he couldn't do on earth. 


Phyllis DeGioia 
October 27, 2014

Hi Amandah, Have you consulted a veterinary behaviorist yet? Have you ruled out any medical causes with a thorough work up at the vet? Is your vet aware of this behavior? It is frightening to hear that he went after two children, and clearly you need to do something. While you weigh your options and talk to a behaviorist or a certified trainer who specializes in aggression, is it possible to muzzle him when he's outside?


Susan M 
October 27, 2014

I'm not sure where to begin. I've had miniature schnauzers for 32 years, and I love the breed.  I lost my second schnauzer 2 summers ago.  Jerry was 15 years old  when he passed and he had been a sweet and devoted animal his entire life.  My heart still longs for him.  2 1/2 months later while looking for a puppy, I found a breeder who also showed mini schanuzers.  He had a nearly 5 year old black male that he was looking to retire and to give away to a new home.  Well, I thought, let's go take a look.  While I had wanted a puppy, I had not had much luck locating any litters at that time.   So, we drove about an hour and half to this fellow's home and met him and our Chance.  His show name had been Give Me a Chance.  Chancie was jet black with a stripe of white on his chest, and a truly gorgeous animal.  He seemed very needy and so wanted to be loved.  He had been a show dog for most of his life, appearing in shows 2 to 3 times each week, and confined to a crate most of the time.  I've since learned that the show life is not the best life for a dog.  To be fair, his breeder cautioned that Chance had been with another family before us and had bitten a child ("broke the skin" is what he said).  I thought, children and dogs, its hard to know what happened or who is at fault.  In any event, we had no children of our own and  I promised to keep Chance away from other children (not the easiest thing to do with 5 kids living next door).  In the end, his breeder agreed to let us have Chance and made us also promise to bring him back if anything went wrong. You can guess the rest - we took our Chance home with us and fell in love with him immediately.  He was very sweet, very obedient, and just delighted to be in his new home with a family of his own and so many toys and comforts.  Chance had never had toys before, and came to us with a single, raggedy squeaky bear toy that his last family had purchased for him.  I almost threw that bear out more than once.  Now I am glad that I never did.  Later that month, he and I celebrated our birthdays together as they were two days apart – we even shared a cake with both of our names on it.  Afterwards, his beard smelled just like the cake and ice cream – it was the cutest thing.  As time went by, our bond with him grew very strong and I cannot describe the happiness that he restored to our lives.  In many ways, I think he saved mine.   But several months after he came home with us, Chance started exhibiting certain strange behaviors which at the time, we chalked up to his upbringing on the show circuit or perhaps the way that he had been treated by his prior family - he was afraid to go into the fenced backyard by himself, he was afraid of loud noises and traffic sounds, and he would stop and become steadfast when we tried to walk him on a leash. All of this seemed so odd given that he had endured applause and walked on a lead in the show ring.  We wondered if he had been abused in some way. Then again, perhaps these were signs of things to come.  Well, we just loved him, vowed to work with him on each of these issues and he was making real progress - he had started to readily  go out into the yard by himself, was less afraid of loud noises after some training, and was leash walking more readily.  Then, 7 mos. after we had him, he suddenly snapped.  We were watching TV one night and Chance was in my spouse's lap sleeping (where he insisted upon sleeping every night before bedtime with us).  Yes, he slept with us too – right next to me and usually with his head on my shoulder.  I never minded – I loved him so.  In any event, we both had gotten up and put Chance down on the floor.  He looked so adorable that we both then knelt down onto the floor to kiss and hug him as we had done so many times before.  As I approached him, he looked at me and appeared a little dazed. Then, he looked away and I thought that he was licking my spouse's face - it took me a moment to figure out that he was actually biting and was not going to let go.  This happened very quickly and without any warning.  As soon as I figured out what was going on, I told Chance to stop and wrapped my hands around his jaw (probably not the smartest thing to do), and pulled it apart.    When my spouse got up, I knew that we had to go the emergency room - bitten badly around the noise, a broken noise, and punctures near both eyes.   Chance followed us as we ran into the kitchen for towels to apply pressure and help to stop the bleeding.  There was blood everywhere.   But, I honestly don't think he knew what he had done. The next day, I called a very good friend who has raised dogs all of her life, runs a dog day care facility and is a former professional groomer.  When I told her what had happened, she immediately thought that it was rage and encouraged us to get Chance out of the house for our own safety.   Well, I had never heard of rage before and I called the vet to discuss it with him.  He wasn't sure either and said that we might want to consider a behaviorist.  Maybe we should have.  All I knew was that I had a really scary dog in my kitchen that I could no longer trust, and a spouse that was now terrified and badly hurt. I then called Chance's breeder/handler who had always said that if we had a problem with Chance, to call him and he would take him back because Chance was his baby too.   I hated the idea of losing Chance, but I thought, at least he will be ok with his breeder.   Well, when I called him, do you know what he said?  He didn't want the dog back and told me to have Chance put down.  My beautiful 5 year old baby, put down.   These thoughts had crossed my mind over the last 24 hours, but I never thought that it would come to this or that I would be the one to have to do it.   (In hindsight, I am actually grateful that I was the one because at least I could make Chance's passing as stress-less as possible for him and to be sure that his remains were treated with respect.)  The vet came to our home late that afternoon. Just before,  I had fed Chance his dinner and taken him outside to play for a little while.  I felt so badly for him - he was acting just like he always did wanting to kiss and hug.  But when he looked at me that afternoon, he seemed to know that something had gone very wrong. Then, it was over - almost.  Because Chance was put down before he could be isolated for 10 days for rabies verification purposes (state law), I had to consent to having his head removed and sent to the state lab for testing.   After which, Chance's head would be discarded.  The thoughts of this almost killed me on the spot.   I knew that I could not let that happen to my Chancie.  With my vet's help, I contacted the lab first thing the next morning when Chance's head would be arriving for examination.  Through a number of emotional calls and messages, the technicians agreed to return the head to me but I would have to go and get it.  I didn't care - I would have done anything for that little dog.   So, off I drove through some of the worst parts of the city and got quite lost even with the aid of Mapquest. As I was beginning to cry and completely fall apart in my car, I prayed.  Suddenly, I looked up and on the top of hill, I saw that God-awful lab which I recognized from its website. Literally driving past burnt out buildings, I parked and went inside.  Gratefully, the technician that I had last spoken to understood - he said that he was a dog owner too.   Chance didn't have rabies.   I took the sealed and cold box that contained Chance's head and wrapped in it my coat on the back seat of my car.  I don't know why I did that.  I then drove an hour to the vet's office so that my Chance could be sent intact to be cremated and returned to me.   I have him now, and his ashes are in a little marble urn next to that raggedy squeaky bear toy that I am so glad that I kept. But, it still wasn't and isn't over.  There is not one day that I have not questioned the decision to put Chance down.  Although we only had him for 7 mos., I loved him dearly and I still do.  Even now and with a new and very sweet puppy (yes, another mini schnauzer), I have not gotten over this loss and the way that it happened.  I am very sorry for anyone who has, or will go through what is without a doubt, the heartbreak of a lifetime.


Sarah 
October 26, 2014

We got our dog 3 years ago. A black lab- from an animal shelter. It had been starved, lost it's coat by the time he got help. Fast forward in time, we started having incidences of him reacting aggressively to people when they came over. He scratched/bit the neighbor who came over to get his ball, my aunties hand one time and this weekend my friends' arm and thigh. It was the worst yet. We have had input from a doggie behaviorist and overall his behavior improved and he always gets on well with other dogs at the dogpark. But his unpredictability (those times when we miss something) scares us. He has a dogcrate and usually keep him out back, but he knew this friend and she came over unexpectedly. I have emailed my dog therapist about options, but I have a niggling fear this may happen again. It was the worst bite yet. He is my best friend and I don't know what to do. It is almost easier to vow to 'try harder' to protect others from him and also keep him safe from being in those situations where he reacts badly. But the thought of it happening again... this is a difficult decision.


Amandah 
October 26, 2014

MY 8 year old boxer has "bitten" more like nipped at 6 people over his life.  2 of there people have been over the last year.  This week he went after 2 young girls.  He is territorial and protective.  He is the biggest baby and lover, if you come in to our house he loves you....if you try to come into our yard he is a psycho.  I don't know what to do.  I feel like putting him down is the best and most responsible thing to do?? I can't imagine just taking him one day to put him to sleep but I am worried that despite our efforts to keep him in our fenced in yard and on the leash, something bad is going to happen and I don't want that.


Jackie Creviston 
October 26, 2014

I am so glad I found this board. I adopted Buster from the humane society and was told he was a blue heeler and would probably not weigh more than 40 pounds. He came from an "unplanned" litter of 12 pups from Western Washington. Right off the start, I could tell he had been removed from his mother and siblings too young, as at 8 weeks he had already been in two shelters and neutered.  Well, Buster turned into a 75 lb. cattle dog/coonhound heeler mix.  He would nurse on a pillow and bring toys to me, played with my elderly jack Russell, got along with the cats.  The most loving caring dog in so many ways. When I went though a divorce, having to sell my house and was unemployed, Buster was there for me always.  I LOVED BUSTER.  But, early on in the first few months of his life there were signs of aggression that were troublesome.  The dogs at the dog park that he used to play with he started attacking.  Dog walks were torture because he was so big and powerful that I literally COULD NOT control him.  He pulled me down several times.  He also started nipping and trying to attack people viciously for no visible reason.  I actually was afraid of him a couple times when I asked him to move over on the bed and he tried to nip me.  Buster went to three dog training sessions...no result..was on meds..no result.  His world became more confining and I tried muzzles, special harnesses, etc.  He would not come when called and would run off.  The effort I put into trying to train him was unreal.  Then I had to go on a trip and he bit a woman very badly.  I could see what was on the horizon.  It was horrible to see the unpredictability.  His eyes would glaze over and he would act like nothing had happened when he would nip at or bit people.  The poor dog just wore me out. Finally after a last biting, running away incident, the victim called animal control and I agreed to have him euthanized.  It was hard but he was suffering, I was suffering and his behavior was escalating.  He was only 3 1/2 years old.  I had him cremated and have his ashes and toys that I will spread in the fields of Montana.  It breaks my heart.  I know I did the right thing but that doesn't mean it was easy.  He was so loyal to me I felt like I betrayed him but I know I didn't.  Buster was bred to be a herding dog and the increasing confinement only made his anxiety worse.  I also believe that some dogs are just mentally ill due to a number of factors and being taken so young from his mother didn't help.  I love you my big boy and will see you at the Rainbow Bridge.  This only happened a couple weeks ago and I cried and cried for several days but now there is some relief in knowing he can't hurt anyone and his quality of life was not good.


John Peters 
October 25, 2014

On a slightly different angle I'm having similar guilt, although the decision wasn't mine and the dog wasn't in my view at fault.  I'm in the UK and I've have just had our beloved 4 year old lab destroyed (such a horrible word) by our "justice" system.   Some kids accessed our house whilst we were at the neighbours.  They opened the stair gate to the kitchen which is where our dog is kept and is there to stop him bolting for the door.  We don't know what happened next other than one of the kids got bitten, but it did not pierce the skin.. Unfortunately, when he was a puppy (6 months) he pounced a toddler in a high street which is where the the first caution and control order came in, no biting, just a jump with sharp claws. He was an excellent pet, great with all our kids and friends, top of dog training classes and all it's taken is 2  trespassing  under 10s and their negligent parent's to see our family heartbroken.  I ask what reasonable precautions I could have taken, other than locking the window that they  came in through? Fury has changed to sheer disbelief that this is justice...


Lauren 
October 24, 2014

I'm really in awe of all the support on this page.  I have an 11 year old terrier mix who the vet believes has cushings disease.  For the last 6 months she has been pouncing on my other terrier mix who is 2 years old.  It wasn't until the last 3 months or so that the pouncing turned into aggressive attacking.  She pins the younger pup to the floor and tries to bite her all the while my younger pup is yelping and trying to fight back.  My oldest dog will not back down until i literally pick her up and put her in another room.  Once they are separated, my oldest dog struggles to calm down.  her bottom lip quivers, her eyes are blood shot and she is shaking and completely stressed.  the attacks are completely random, however, they are becoming more and more often that i'm having to keep them separated all the time now.  in the event they are not separated, i keep a very close eye on my elder dog and it is not more than 15 minutes before i'm intersecting her dart to my younger pup and preventing yet another attack.  my older dog is miserable being locked behind a baby gate.  my heart breaks.  for both dogs.  i'm so sad.


James Taylor 
October 22, 2014

Thank you for your story and trying to work with your companions. Once the trust is gone, it cannot never be recovered. Our lovely rescue dog crossed the line this evening after an increase in aggressive behavior over the last month. Oliver brutally and viciously attacked our 17 year old male cat. The cat that everyone in the family loves. The most docile and innocent cat around. Simon, the cat, was walking from one room to another, no where near Oliver, and Oliver ran to Simon, pinning him to the floor. Simon made sounds I haven't heard him make his entire life. That guttural howling that you know, instantly, something is terribly wrong. As soon as we pulled Oliver off of Simon, he lunged at us. I love animals and have grown up around them my entire life, but this is an episode that I will never bear witness to again. I will not be terrorized in my home. I will not allow my animals to terrorize each other. And through this evening, there had been perfect harmony between our four cats and two dogs in our 3500 square foot quarter acre Texas home. *I say that only because some people might think too many animals in tight quarters. My heart breaks that Oliver is in a kennel outside tonight. It breaks my heart that we have to go to such extreme measures, but we simply cannot assume this risk. We cannot risk rehoming an animal after such a brutal attack.


Beth 
October 17, 2014

Reading all of these comments about the same situation I have found myself in has brought some comfort to me. My 9 yo Am Bulldog Penny is the sweetest, most loveable cuddle bug you could ever want. That is until the switch flips and she wants to kill my French Bulldog. It first started when Penny was 2 and she attacked my 11 yo Boston Terrier. The kids where playing ball with her when she bumped into Wilby startling him. He being old and grumpy growl a little at Penny and before I knew it she was on him shaking him like a rag doll. I tried to get her off but she would not let go. I finally had to choke her enough to make her let go. My poor Wilby had lost too much blood and passed away on the operating table. I wanted to put her down then but everyone said she just reacted to Wilbys aggression. She knows that she has done wrong and is very remorseful acting. Things after that where fine for a couple years, I felt safe to get myself a French Bulldog named Bella. They love each other cuddling up to sleep. When Bella was 3 she was chasing squirrels in our yard when out of nowhere Penny runs over and snatches Bella by the neck. Again I am yelling pulling on her smacking then finally choking her to make her let Bella go. Bella ended up needing stitches but was ok. Excuses again for why it happened. Over the years I have done everything I know to try and help/figure out why she does this. We have had trainers, dog behavioralist and vets work with us and nothing has helped. Last week was the last straw. I let them out back in the morning and our neighbor was stacking firewood next to our house. Bella ran over and was barking but it was more of a hello then a aggressive bark. I was standing there watching when all the sudden Penny runs up behind Bella And grabbed her by the neck. I went running outside yelling no to Penny but she was shaking Bella all over. I ended up getting bit several times trying to prevent Penny from killing Bella. I finally managed to choke her and she let go but I was bleeding all over. I knew at that point that I could not live like this anymore. I love Penny very much and have cried so many tears over this decision but know that it is what I have to do. I still feel like I failed her and that I am to blame somehow. I guess it is something that will take time to get through. I have found this vet that will come to my home and put her down which gives me some peace. She will be laying on her bed safe in her home when she falls asleep. That is the best gift to her I can give her.


Liz 
October 17, 2014

Thank you for sharing your story. My family & I have been struggling with my dog's aggression problems for over a year now. We have had so many close calls; his attacks are completely unprovoked and unpredictable. He has targeted my family, friends, house guests and other dogs. I love him with all my heart, but I feel like he is a ticking time bomb and that him severly injuring an innocent person or dog at some point is inevitable. I have tried everything I could, but for some reason he feels threatened so easily, and responds to those threats with extreme aggression. Seeing that I am not alone in having to make this heartbreaking decision is somewhat comforting during this difficult time. I am most likely bringing my dog to the vet this weekend


Becky Lieder 
October 13, 2014

Maureen did you ever find a support group? Does anyone know of one?


Phyllis DeGioia 
October 13, 2014

I am so sorry for your loss and your experience. All of us with aggressive dogs we love know the justifications and explanations to ourselves. After a while the pain lessens and even ends - at least for the most part - and eventually you feel better about your decision when you realize how much time and energy you put into protecting him and other people, and how free he must feel from all that anxiety and fear. I think all of us with these dogs spend a great deal of time justifying and explaining things away - it's human nature to do so in the beginning. Be good to yourself. Your heart will open again.


Susan 
October 12, 2014

I too just had to euthanize my sweet boy just a few days ago. I adopted him a little over 13 months ago and he was my best friend. The most amazing dog with the most amazing personality. Due to a head injury he suffered from a car accident less than two months ago he developed an aggression towards my husband. We continued to find him the home and love he deserved by keeping them isolated. We also consulted with a dog behavioralist and were in training. Unfortunately he viciously attacked my other dog out of no where this past Tuesday night. We felt at this point it was time to free him of something he was becoming that we knew wasn't him. It kills me to not have him follow me every where. To not hog my entire bed. To not lay his big head on my lap every chance he got. To not demand my one on one attention and massages. To not see him being silly and doing the craziest things. But deep down I know I did the right thing by him. He knew how much he was loved right until the very end.


Elizabeth 
October 11, 2014

I have spent the morning pouring though the comments on this page. I haven't shared it with my husband yet because he's too distraught. We're both pretty emotionally raw at this point but, I wanted to reach out. Perhaps selfishly for some comfort. On Wednesday night we put our beloved English Mastiff/St. Bernard mix, Henry to sleep. This has been on the horizon for sometime now but, we had always hoped to avoid it. Henry was about 9. My husband and I joked and said we had a blended family. He got Henry as a puppy when his girlfriend at the time couldn't keep him because she was moving out west. She had gotten him because she wanted a "guard dog." She quickly lost interest in him and my husband raised him and he was NEVER trained in any "guard dog" capacity. When we met, my lab mix and Henry hit it off wonderfully and we started our life together. We've always considered our dogs our children so this has been especially hard. Henry was always wonderful with us. He could be sassy and stubborn but, I called it only child syndrome b/c my husband spoiled him and found some of his traits cute.  When I moved in, I insisted on more of a pack structure having raised and worked for an Irish Wolfhound breeder. I think large dogs are awesome but, they need to have some boundaries because they can become difficult to control without them. Henry responded well to this. The first "issue" we had happened when I asked him to hop off the bed so I could close the door to the bedroom while I was at work. He was defiant. I reached for his collar (not a good move, I know) but, wasn't expecting his reaction to be to nip. He made a little scratch but, it mostly just startled me. He wasn't fixed at the time so again I insisted we neuter him in hopes that it would help with his "sassiness." He mellowed out a bit with this and I consulted with some breeders and trainers to help with our "pack dynamics" at home.  He would exhibit aggression toward other dogs, particularly strange males but we never had issues with my sister's dogs or my parents' dogs. We did purchase a basket muzzle for safety safe especially during the initial meet and greets. Weighing in a 140 lbs and solid muscle and bone, we didn't want to take any chances. For the most part things were fine until we moved to New York. Over the course of 3 years, he bit several people. The first was my husband's grandfather's hand. He didn't need stitches but, it gave us a scare. The next were nips on the butt of 3 of my husband's guy friends who came to visit. He didn't break the skin but tore the jeans and caused a bruise/swelling. We started putting him in the bedroom when people came over to avoid that issues but, I was nervous. I started to recognize Henry's anxiety at this time too and my husband and I made changes to address this. His most serious issue occurred 6 months ago. While on a walk,a young boy unexpectedly darted in between Henry and myself and Henry lunged. In a  rapid respond my husband grabbed him and I blocked him. To say it was a close call is an understatement. The boy was about at tall as Henry and was right at mouth level. Not having any options I blocked him with my hands. He bit me and immediately released but the damage was done. I had serious damage to my left hand, needed surgery and spent 4 days in the hospital on 24 hr IV antibiotics. I'm not sure that he would have let go of that boy and not sure that boy would have survived. We talked about putting him down but, couldn't. Blamed ourselves for not having his muzzle on or not noticing the little boy even though his behavior was as unpredictable as Henry's. We have been careful ever since but in July a friend tried to pet him and he bit his hand. Then just last week a neighbor came over. He was fine with her the entire visit  and she went to say goodbye. She put her face in his face (stupid move but, if you as me humans are just if not more unpredictable than dogs) and he bit her cheek. She acknowledged her mistake and new it was not a reasonable way to interact with animals and apologized. We just thought about how many "close calls" we had and worried about the potential.  At this point we have no more tears but, feel the guilt and shame. We feel like we failed him and feel like as the "humans" we should have protected him from himself. I spoke to the vet and she felt euthanasia was the best option for him. She was very compassionate but, I can't shake these horrible feelings or the picture of him lifeless. We have lost a piece of our heart and soul as well as a family member. If nothing else this is helpful to wright out and this blog provided some comfort in knowing we're not alone. For all of you who have shared your stories, I understand the heartache, confusion and despair you're feeling or have felt. I'm deep within it myself. Henry we love you and miss you deeply.


onnieh 
October 11, 2014

You can't possibly know how much finding this article has eased the gut-wrenching pain I am going through in this very instant. my dude, my boy, my heart, my sweet and soulful 4-year old flat coat retriever is scheduled for euthanasia and I feel like I can't breathe and the pain will never end … you have helped me realize that our decision, though painful and heartbreaking is not wrong. we have justified and explained away so much but we have reached the end of the road and must release him and us from the fear and anxiety. thank you so much for sharing your experience and your feelings.


Becky 
October 10, 2014

My Bear had grabbed at my friends pants, I was able to get him off without her being hurt. The second time he jumped at another friend and I grabbed him but he left a little mark. There were numerous times he would grab people's feet and if I grabbed him it would make things worse. He only listened to my husband. I kept thinking I could fix him. Yesterday he bite my stepsons mother. We had to take her to the hospital. She is going to be ok. We came home, had our vet come over and put him down. I feel like I failed as his owner. If I had just..... After reading this article and comments, my beautiful Bear wasn't wired right. He was only 17 months old. He had worms so bad when we got him they were making him sick, at about 8 months he tore his ACL (lots of muzzled vets visits, shots into his hip and knees, limited activity....) the list goes on. Only 17 months old. I promised we would never leave him and we didn't. But the pain of not seeing his drooling face on my shoulder in the morning, right now it feels unbearable.


Phyllis DeGioia 
October 9, 2014

Sara, I'm sorry to hear you are in-between a rock and a hard place. I know you have done your best with her, and all the training has clearly been advantageous although it did not resolve her hard-wired prey drive. It's terribly difficult to find a good solution for a dog that has been deemed dangerous.  I'm not surprised that rescue won't take Charlee because dogs that have hurt other dogs are basically unadoptable. Your condo association has given you a very short time-frame in which to make arrangements for Charlee. Are they requiring it because Charlee has been deemed dangerous or because of a complaint by another homeowner? Did you buy her from a breeder? Responsible breeders should take a dog back for any reason. Unfortunately, some breeders won't do that, even if you can find them. Dodger's breeders would not take him back from his first owner, so he went into rescue. Have you spoken with a pit bull-specific rescue, even if one is not local to you? I'm afraid I have no new suggestions in this case, and I too wonder about her quality of life with all of her new restrictions. If you surrender her to the shelter, they will euthanize her, and if that's the end scenario it's better for her if you take her in for that. Who were the professionals who suggested euthanasia, the trainers? What does your vet think? Whose opinion do you respect the most? What can you live with, and what can Charlee live with? I wish you luck. Let us know what evolves.


Sara 
October 9, 2014

Thank you for sharing your story. I know this can be a traumatizing experience because our animals are a part of our families. I have a 2 year old pitbull named Charlee who is an absolute sweetheart with humans. She will lick anyone to death.  When it comes to other dogs, specifically small ones, it is a completely different story. Charlee has bitten my parents dog and my best friends dog, and we decided that it was time to keep her out of those situations and get her some training. We spent lots of time and money on the best training we could find. As a result of the training, Charlee was very obedient, but we could never seem to get rid of her impulse to growl or lunge at smaller dogs. About two months ago, Charlee got away from me outside my home and ran towards two small dogs being walked by their owner. Charlee grabbed one of the small dogs and bit her causing fairly significant damage. The owners of the dog opted to euthanize the dog although I insisted on paying vet bills. Long story short, animal control was called and I was taken to court.  As a result of this, the city I live in deemed my dog a dangerous dog which requires me to comply with many rules and regulations in order to keep Charlee including extra insurance, signs around my condo, and having her on muzzle and leash anytime she leaves the house including in the backyard to go to the bathroom. At first, I believed the best thing for Charlee was for me to comply with all of the requirements so that she could stay in her home with me even though she can no longer go to the lake and swim, run around at the beach, or go for long runs with my husband.  As time goes on though, I feel more and more guilty about her quality of life Although I give her lots of love and walks, I feel like her life is very different from the way it was before the attack. To add to this, my condo association just sent me a letter saying I am being ordered to remove the dog from my property by October 17th. According to our bylaws, they have every right to do this. I have been in contact with many pitbull rescues, posted ads on Craigslist, etc and cannot find anyone who will take Charlee because of her history and the amount of responsibility it would be to own a dog that is registered as a dangerous dog. I am running out of options and time to figure this all out. To add to this, my husband and I would like to start a family, and although Charlee has never shown aggression towards people, we worry her aggression towards small animals could translate to a baby or small child. The thought of this terrifies me. Does anyone have any suggestions for me? As much as I absolutely hate the idea of this, a few professionals have suggested euthanasia.  I would appreciate any helpful suggestions that you all can give. Please keep in mind, I have tried to do my best for my pup because she really is my baby.


eb 
October 8, 2014

in dealing with that exact situation....a female pit raised as a pup was all my daughter needed to satisfy her great love for animals. she was 16 and very aware of the dangers she was aquiring. a family friend warned...and i now firmly beleive, that *if a dog is spayed as a pup (which is preferred for the health of the dog/ unused organs to prevent cancer/disease)she will remain a pup and her behaviors,instincs, learn process, maternal,etc. would not reach maturity.* at three 1/2 years old she stunned my baby with bitr to the face while playing. UNACCEPTABLE. processing the unwanted deed of putting her down was overridden by re-establishing boundries and behavioral training. not seeing an adequate change, then a noticable exculation....her unwanted deed became her reality. so so sad for all. but like you the bells ring loud and clear and i praise her for her strength to do what is right for all. peace has come for one and soon enough for the other. blessings from my mother to me, as your mother to you.... much love, mom
 


Phyllis DeGioia 
October 7, 2014

Dear Jason, first, I am so sorry for your loss and your deep pain. I know how it feels, and crying is a healthy, cathartic response, so please don’t fight it. It’s best to deal with your grief head on so that it doesn’t bounce back at an inappropriate time and interfere with your future life. Spreading his ashes where you walked him the day you took him into your home sounds like a perfect memorial. Cry it all out. You went above and beyond to work with him, made every effort possible. His freedom from anxiety was the second best gift you ever gave him; the first was your love. I agree that “there are no bad dogs, just bad owners” is ridiculous. As I see it, there are two kinds of anxiety in dogs: the one created by poor training and leadership, which is what the adage refers to, and those who suffer from some level of mental illness. If medication does not lessen the latter to a liveable degree, a dog owner ends up living with a difficult and potentially dangerous dog. On a side note, it makes me angry to hear that the shelter was persuaded to adopt him out to you when they knew, in no uncertain terms, that they should not have. This situation is a fertile ground for heartache and liability. Perhaps one of the ways you could deal with your grief is to write them a letter outlining what happened and why they should never again adopt out a dog with obvious aggression.  Take care of yourself.


Alissa 
October 7, 2014

I wrote  a few says ago. the pain is still raw and I am struggling day to day...waves of emotions. For those people thinking of putting their aggressive or mentally unstable dog down, I hope you try other avenues before you do it. Medication etc...give your fur babies a chance....mine didn't get that chance.


Juan Fonseca 
October 6, 2014

It breaks my heart. This morning our 5yo dog bit my wife as she was giving him love. The last few months have been full of anxiety and agression, he nipped my brother twice in the last few weeks, I was so afraid that my 3yo daughter was next, we called animal control and they picked him up. There's no chances for him, they will put him to sleep immediately. It really breaks my heart, I loved the darn dog. But my daughter's safety comes before my love for a dog.


Jason 
October 6, 2014

Thank you for this article and it's comments.  It helped me make a difficult decision and to heal a little too. I put my dog down Wednesday.  It felt like a liver punch.  I simply crumpled and cried. I woke up at 0200 and did it again. When I saw his body after it had been done, it was the first time in 9 years I had ever seen him at peace.  As awful as this process has been, euthanizing him was the best gift I could give him. My ex found him at an animal shelter in 2006.  He was about 6 months old.  He had been found running with another stray in Fruita, CO.  He was fuzzy and adorable, and he charmed her. The problem was the animal shelter wouldn't adopt him because at 6 months old he repeatedly failed temperament tests and was incredibly aggressive.  She talked them into it, and he became my dog a few months later. Not wanting to give up on him, I did everything.  EVERYTHING.  I spent thousands on trainers, crates, better environments, everything.  We began socializing at dog parks, and he did OK for awhile.  There would be an incident every once and awhile, but eventually he was too combative with other dogs, so we just went to parks.  Then parks were too much.  So, we walked in the neighborhood.  He found too many cats and dogs to attack, so he ended up in my yard and ultimately my garage.  He would only be good if I was there with him, which simply isn't possible 100% of the time.  No one else could either, especially with his history of aggression.  He was given much love and attention, but it never made him able to relax.  He was constantly afraid of some unknown danger, and aggression was the only way he knew how to respond. I had not realized was how anxious and afraid he was all the time.  He didn't even sleep well.  He'd attack my other dog, he had bit me before while attacking other dogs, and finally he bit a neighbor when attacking her dog, which he has attacked before even though they were a block away.  My wife could not control him, nor could anyone else. His hips had begun hurting him a couple of years ago, and our grand mountain hikes were just fond memories.  He was in pain and I didn't see it.  He was afraid all the time and I wouldn't admit it.  There was something deeply wrong with him, and it had been getting worse despite my best efforts and the efforts of great trainers.  He was suffering silently, and because of that he was getting increasingly aggressive.  Because of his increased aggression, he kept limiting his world and mine to a more and more isolated existence.  He needed a freedom this world couldn't provide him. That freedom was my gift to him. Next week I'm hiking his ashes to the top of Mount Garfield, where we walked the first day I had him.  I'll probably cry again even though it's something I rarely do. I'll remember the true love that only a dog can give, and how he was true.  If he could have understood how difficult he made my life, he would have acted differently, but he simply couldn't.  That addage about no bad dogs only bad owners is garbage.  I wish they could all be saved and count him among them, but it's not true.  If there was any way possible to have done anything other than euthanizing him, I would have done it.  I'll speak my peace, let his ashes go and then I'll go back to my neighborhood where my neighbors and other dogs will no longer fear and avoid us.  They'll talk to me and play with our other dog, and we'll carry on as we must. Slowly, my life will normalize, and I'm already starting to see how abnormal it was constantly caring for an aggressive dog. Thank you.  Good luck to all of you grieving or deliberating what to do. In the end, only you know what's right.  Not experts, not the almighty google, just you.  My heart is with all of you. 


Megan K. 
October 5, 2014

I am so grateful to have found this piece--and these comments--as I sit here tonight trying to find the words to explain this very same decision to my five year old daughter. Lyn Koenig, we too are waiting for the appointment. This Wednesday at noon. I feel like my heart will shatter into pieces. I hope you find peace with your decision, and that we are all able to make room for the many animal companions that will surely touch our lives for many years to come. Thank you all for sharing your thoughts on such a complicated, intensely painful, deeply personal topic.


GJM 
October 4, 2014

Luckily I found this site today. I am in turmoil myself, after our little chihuahua, bit my husband the other night. HE bit him on the hand that my husband just had surgery on a month ago. We are doctoring it up and I have him on some antibiotics. But our love for this dog is now gone. I just do not think I can afford to keep him now, and treat him the same. I have great fear of him doing this to someone else, and causing even greater pain. Am asking advise of family as to what I think we should do, but now I know there is only one thing to do. 


Sydney Williams 
October 3, 2014

I'm laying on bed reading all of these stories and I am crying my eyes out because I'm so afraid for my girl. She's a 4 year old English bulldog named Lucie. We've known she's had vet and groomer anxiety/aggression since she was about a year old-she had many health problems as a pup and was always at the vet. My sister is a license vet tech and now practice manager and the other night she tried clipping Lucies nails, when I told her it wouldn't be a good idea.. Lucie doesn't like being "messed with". She nipped my sister on the chin and nearly knocked her jaw out of it's socket. A couple days ago I noticed she had an ear infection and I was SOOO reluctant to take her to the vet so I called asking if she could just get me a script for antibiotic. That was a no go. She's familiar with Lucies tendencies so she called in a prescription for Valium for me to give prior to the appt. so they can sedate her for the exam. She was better than usual when I first got her there but the second my sister threw a blanket over her face to try and pin her for the shot, she started lunging at me and my sister. In a fit of desperation I took my foot and put it where the leash clasp and the collar ring met and stomped and pinned her face to the ground. The shot was successful but when we thought she was asleep and tried to move her to the table she went for my sister again. So she got ANOTHER shot. After the second shot, they thought she was out and again she got up and started lunging at the vet. So they gassed her. I noticed a big bruised bite on the inside of my sisters arm and I just started sobbing. Lucie has been great with us, and she's NEVER bitten any of us or a house guest or even snapped at a child. We have a 3 to and we host a lot of play dates with kids in the same age group and she's always been a great dog with the kids! She hates vets, we know this. She is only to be seen on an as needed basis now. My sister will give her her shots every 3 years at our house so were praying her health holds out so we won't have to take her in. We have a 3 year old son and 3.5 month old baby girl now. I told my husband after the stress she put me through today she has one strike with anybody outside of a vet clinic. She hasn't had much professional training, just a few sessions with a group of other dogs- with which she made light years of improvement with dog aggression(tiny yappy dogs are also a trigger for her) I've seen her run up on them before and usually she just runs up and bumps the dogs with her nose then the little dog bites her and lucie gets mad and tries to bite the other dog. Which she's only landed a bite once on a chihuahuas tail. The one strike rule seems like a fair system, because is hate to euthanize her because she might bite someone. I don't even know what to do. I have horrible anxiety so naturally, she behaves worse with me than my husband, but he can't ever get off work to take her.


Alissa 
October 3, 2014

Tears are falling as I read this. My parents put down our family pet at 8 years old yesterday. After a new grandchild arrived they visited the vet for anxiety tablets, and they were convinced she was a danger to all involved and we had all done well to last 8 years. She was unpredictable to others and had severe anxiety and also overly protective. I'm gutted I didn't get to say goodbye and finding it hard to accept a healthy dog was euthanised when we had learnt to control and manage her in the home .A huge loss and I can't stop crying.


Johanna 
October 3, 2014

I type this with tears in my eyes. Our 3 year old great dane/st. bernard mix bit our 10 year old son - 15 stiches to the scalp and some small lacerations near the eye. I count my blessings and am thankful that my son is alive and will heal. meanwhile, my heart is crumbling and I'm filled with grief imagining the day I drive my dog to the vet to have him put to sleep.  I keep reminding myself that it is what needs to be done and that behavior is unacceptable for a family pet, but it does not take away the hurt and sadness of having to make this difficult decision.  so glad I found this post and thread - I'm not alone and we do our best as pet parents but some dogs are beyond help.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
October 2, 2014

Sarah, Sometimes it is so hard to admit that there is nothing we can do to fix a problem, in this case the aggression of your 'cuddly girl'. You have done all of the right things, trainers, drugs, etc, and they are not working; as you stated, she is a complete danger to society. Know that you have done the right things, but making the decision to remove a danger to society is the right one and you will feel relieved as well. Then, you will feel guilty for feeling relieved, but that is normal.  It is still the right decision for all of you.  Your dog will be released from her demons, you will no longer have to walk on eggshells and no one will be hurt or killed. Even  with all of those positives, it will still be a very hard thing to live through.  Allow yourself time to grieve and remember the good times with your girl. My heart goes out to you.


Sarah 
October 1, 2014

Your posts have moved me so much. I am facing the same choice, while not being a choice. My lovely cuddly girl is a complete danger to society. She has also seen many trainers, including myself becoming a certified trainer for her, she has been on reconcile and clom. Please send me an email if you have time with any guidance. She is only 4 but already so far gone.


Malynda 
September 30, 2014

Thank you for this more than you will ever know. You just started my own healing from the same issue.


Lyn Koenig 
September 30, 2014

I await for the appointment to have our rescue boxer euthanized. Removing the swirl of emotions that you so aptly identified, I know it is the right decision for so many reasons. As you said, however, I am so saddened and sick to the stomach when I think of ending the life of a dog who was unfairly treated by someone else. Yes, we have made him a better family dog. He is energetic, goofy, and loving with the family but there are too many risks and he truthfully limits our lives. I hate the people who did this to him. I hate that we have to do this to him. I wish it were a year later already. Thank you for writing your experience that helped me see more clearly. Now I will go enjoy my last few day(s) with him. My precious boy. Always.


Bonnie 
September 29, 2014

Thank you for this website.  My husband and I have been struggling with our Charlie.  Charlie is a beautiful terrier/dalmation/pit mix.  We rescued Charlie when he was about 6 months old.  We noticed immediately that he was a nervous dog and a bit dopey but we figured he needed a little extra training.  As time went on we starting spending more and more money on training, doggie day group and all sorts of toys.  One year later Charlie is now on prozac and I can no longer take him out without a muzzle.  He cannot be around any dogs without becoming violently angry.  He also lunges at any stranger that gets too close.  We enjoy the outdoors but can't bring our dog to do anything with us.  We have tried so many things and have spent thousands of dollars trying to help Charlie just be sane.  For so long I have been in denial that there is just one more thing I can try to help him but this weekend i have come to terms with the fact that Charlie is just not wired correctly.  We love him very much and I especially feel a special bond with him but the fact is he is dangerous.  I just can't make that ok in my head.  We are so torn.  This website has helped me and although it is so sad it is comforting to know other people feel the same way we do.  We love our dog like he is part of our family but the reality is he is an animal and he is 70 pounds of unpredictable muscle. We are probably putting Charlie to sleep this week.  This is the hardest decision I have ever had to make in my life.  I am going to be sure to always remember how awesome Charlie is with a ball and how adorable he is when i ask him for a kiss.  Thank you everyone for sharing your stories.  It has been very helpful and comforting.


Jude 
September 26, 2014

I am so, so sorry you had to make such a devastating decision....I do, however, understand completely. My sister is, I believe, going to be put in the same position before to long....she isn't quite ready yet, but it worries me greatly. She adopted a chihuahua last December....and was not told that the poor dog has severe, and I mean severe, behavior problems that became painfully evident as soon as we arrived home. This poor dog had obviously been terribly abused and emotionally neglected. Her nails were grown around her little paws, so, our first task was to clip her nails. There was no way in Gods green earth WE were going to be able to do it.....she went absolutely berserk. We called our vet, made an appt. to get her nails trimmed, and took her in. It  took 2 techs. and the vet to put a helmet on her....forget a muzzle. The task was accomplished, but the vet told my sister not to bring the dog back. She needed shots, etc., so.....we made an app. at another vet herein town. The dog was so violent she tore the vet tech's finger open. They had to sedate her to give her her shots. Doggy prozac does very little...we've tried. She goes from calm and sweet, to whirling dervish, red zone slasher in .002 seconds. You just don't know when she's going to go off. I called the woman we adopted her from, and she told us the dog had just had a litter of puppies not long before, and ate them all....perfectly healthy puppies, I'm told. Just this morning, as she was lying next to my sister, on the pillow next to her head, she went for my sisters' face...don't know why. I'm scared to go over to the house with my little dog....an 8 month old chichi, who is  a sweet, loving little girl....named Jabez. I'm scared to death Clover is going to eat my little girl. I just wonder if euthanasia wouldn't be better for this poor dog....can you imagine how unhappy, scared, and untrusting she must feel? My sister isn't ready to give up on her yet, but I, personally, am frightened for her...she loves Clover. I just don't feel secure for my sister. ANY ideas?


Brenda 
September 25, 2014

I am also very glad I came across this blog. And the comments, a welcome surprise. Ryan, I feel for you, and for everyone who is living with an aggressive dog that you love. I love my dog too...and I've tried so hard to help him, fix him ..but it just is not happening. he can also be very obedient, or he can be insane. Three years we've had him (he is 5) and he  doesn't  like to be touched or cuddled. He can relax sometimes, at night, when its dark... But most of the day, he is panting, he is barking, growling, pacing... He is very threatening to strangers and even people he knows. it is more than we can take. He lunges, jumps at and wants to get anyone that comes close. This summer he scared a little 18month old baby...and I said to myself, if I had lost control of him and he jumped on her, I would have changed her life forever... even if she had not been hurt, she would have been terrified for life...We've exercised him, medicated him, gave him toys to occupy him and keep him challenged and busy.. had him seen by a behaviourist..And no, he just cannot relax. he cannot be tolerant of anyone beyond us. the time has come. As sad as it makes us, we feel it is the only way he will finally be peaceful. How can he be well spending almost every waking moment - frantic. My heart goes out to all of you. Don't beat yourselves up about euthanasia. The alternative possibilities are far worse I'm sure. My boy will find peace tomorrow, and he will finally be at rest from whatever demons have been torturing him inside from his past...


Ryan 
September 25, 2014

This is the first link I stumbled upon when I googled "euthanize an aggressive dog."  Two weeks ago, a more likely google search would have been "I hate my dog- what do I do?"  Right now, Cooper, a Weimaraner that my wife and I bought at a yard sale, is sitting next to me with his warm head on my leg.  If I pet him right now, it could go one of two ways. He could nuzzle closer and do his little happy groan, or without warning he could lash out and angrily bite my hand.... or face.  I've been bitten 3 times within the past month - top of head, face, and hand.  We've always been quick to brush it off as "what had we done wrong?"  It's been upsetting, and as much as I may joke about "killing this $%&*#!@ dog", we never really thought the day would come that a veterinary doctor would suggest that euthanasia may be our only option, until yesterday.  It's never going to feel right, as we've put so much time, love, and training into trying to make Cooper a comfortable and happy dog- he's usually very smart and obedient, just violently unpredictable.  We give him the exercise that his breed NEEDS, and more patience that I thought I could ever have.  We're still wondering what else we can do to exhaust our options... we feel like we're at a dead end.  I thank you for what you've written - we can at least know that we're not the only ones with this issue... I'm not sure what conclusion we'll reach.


Phyllis DeGioia 
September 24, 2014

Hi Kelly, It's difficult to be in-between a rock and a hard spot, I know. It's understandable that the rescue won't take the dog back because all they could do is euthanize her - they can't risk their other rescues' safety, and no one will adopt her with her bite record. Clearly, your situation must change quickly. At this point, I think they should be kept separated at all times. You have taken the coonhound to the vet several times as the injured party - can we presume that you have had the  weimaraner/lab examined for physical causes? Some medical situations, such as a brain tumor, can cause such behavior, but that's normally a quick change in behavior as opposed to your dog's long-term escalation. I'm not sure I agree that "all she needs" is to be the only dog in the house, as she has to go outside several times a day and still has to go to the vet on occasion, and interact with other dogs. You can't afford the cost of the  trainer, and you can't afford the ongoing vet bills to your coonhound. Sadly, you need to decide what to do soon (talk about easier said than done), since this cannot continue. In this situation, I suggest you follow what your head says; it's not a time to follow your heart. My heart is with you.


Kelly 
September 24, 2014

'm so glad I came across this article because I am struggling with the very same thing and I felt like I was the only one. I rescued my weimaraner/lab mix when she was 2 and a few weeks later, I rescued a coonhound puppy. For 6 months they coexisted peacefully until one day, my weimarlab Charlie attacked the coon, nearly to death. Since then (about a year ago), there have been half a dozen incidents like this, twice resulting in injuries to the coon that required immediate vet attention (one surgery for stitches). We have tried to manage the situation, they are only together when we are home, no toys or value items, always fed separately, etc...This past weekend, the attack was totally out of nowhere and thankfully we were able to pull them apart. Charlie never shows aggression toward us, she's always sorry when it's over and she leaves our two cats alone. But she hates other dogs and it feels like it's getting worse. I have had trainers assess her and offer to "rewire" her but at a massive cost and with no guarantee, it just doesn't feel like that will work. After the vet bills she has already generated, I am at the end of my rope. the rescue that I got the dogs from will have nothing to do with her and offer zero help because she's "a liability." I'd be willing to keep her until another home can be found - she just needs to be the only dog in the house. Since no one seems willing to help me find a new home for her, I feel trapped with this ticking timebomb. It's not a matter of if something terrible will happen, it's a matter of WHEN. I have two children who come home after school alone, what if the dogs fight and kill each other in the presence of my kids? What if Charlie suddenly decides to turn on a human? I can't take the risk and I feel like there is NOWHERE to turn. This article and these comments have given me some insight. I don't want to put my sweet, loving, beautiful girl down, but I also cannot risk the safety of my family, neighbors and my other dog.


Celeste Brighton 
September 22, 2014

Suzan, I can relate to your post. I am struggling with a similar dilemma.  I have had my ~3 yr old pit mix for a year now and while he has never bit anyone, he has displayed increased fear aggression towards people over the past 6 months.  It started out with aggression towards other dogs, so I just avoided the dog park and dog interaction.  But then, 6 months ago, he started lunging at strangers. He has never shown any aggression towards myself or my parents who dog sit him frequently.  Is it wrong to euthanize when a dog has demonstrated increasing aggression over the past 6 months but has never bit anyone? (at least not since I have owned him. He is from a shelter and his past is unknown although it is clear he was abused). I have worked with trainers and a behaviorist.  But despite my best efforts, I am afraid that his lunging will escalate to a bite.


Bre 
September 22, 2014

Jeanell, I know how you feel... I had to give my dog Brutus, an American bull dog with a little pit in him, to a shelter last week. I feel horrible about it... He attacked our other pit over food.  But he also nipped at my moms knee breaking the skin and damaging nerves on her knee.. So we thought maybe we just couldn't feed them together anymore, so I let them together again and they were fine until my mom came home and then they just for some reason flipped again.... Then he snipped at her boyfriend when we tried to pull them apart. Thankfully our neighbor heard me yelling for help and we all got them apart.. Then we just kept them separated. No contact whatsoever together. the closest they ever got to each other was a door was in between them. Everything was going good. I was going to keep my dog until I moved out which was this coming summer. All until I made the careless mistake to keep my dog out back and let the other out front with us so he could socialize with our guests, one guest didn't believe us and had let them get to close together at the fence and they broke through the fence leading into another fight... I, alone, tried to pull him off of my other dog, and he turned around and bit my knee so bad I was dripping blood everywhere and required stitches... I am still recovering from this incident on the fourth of this September... I was terrified of him for that night... the next day he was so sad he hurt me, I am still feeling so guilty at which I was forced to give him away. I defended him against many who tried to tell me they were going to shoot him. He became my best friend again and slept with me and went on car rides with me. Then it came the time when my mom arranged my uncle to pick him up when I was at school to take him to a shelter... I am still devastated... Now this shelter is harassing us trying to sue us even though we signed off all rights to him because a guy was way to rough and crude to him so he bit his arm. They're threating to put him down even though they're a no kill shelter and they cant. I just, I feel terrible.. I want my dog back... I want to hold him and love him again... he's so good when he's not around the other pit. he's great around other dogs but now they say they cant adopt him out because he bit their employee... I mean he just got his nuts cut and this big ole dude is being aggressive with him. I'd bite him too. he's never been aggressive towards people besides those incidents that we stepped in the middle of... Can someone please tell me how I can get over my sorrow and hurt feelings about this whole controversy? I feel like the worst doggiemom because I gave my forever dog (he was rescued) away and totally betrayed his trust... He's so scared at this shelter and I want to go get him but I cant because I'll be facing charges that I had no control over nor was he "my" dog then... Can someone help me....


Suzan Polivka 
September 22, 2014

I am facing putting down my 3 yo chow. I got her as a puppy and from day one she was aggressive with my other dogs. She has food aggression, but only with the other dogs, I can take her dish away. She also has some displaced aggression and has attacked my shar pei more than once, to the point of killing her if I had not intervened. She gets along just fine unless thee is a trigger. Yesterday she got out and tried to kill my goats, once again I was able to stop it before too much harm. She has never bit me or another person but I am not confident she wouldn't, she has growled at me before. Really struggling with putting her down, she is a sweet dog 90% of the time! ugh this is just so hard, I have never ever re-homed or euthanized a dog for behaviors. I would not re- home her as I feel this is irresponsible...what should I do?


Maureen Steffen 
September 21, 2014

Does anyone here know of any support groups for this?


Phyllis DeGioia 
September 18, 2014

Leilani, I'm sorry you and Bailey experienced this, but I'm pleased this article and the comments were helpful to you. I think you feel calm and at ease because you no longer have to worry about what she might do or who she might hurt. It takes a while to work through the varied emotions, and everyone has their individual timeframe; your timeframe may be very different than other people's - or not. Time does help more than I can say. I hope you will soon get to the place where you think mostly of how much you loved her and why. My heart is with you.


Leilani Bird 
September 17, 2014

I had to put my Pit Bull mix to sleep on Monday due to increasingly high levels of aggression. She wasn't even two years old, but slowly after a year, she began showing signs of aggression. I tried obedience training and socializing (it was hard because she wasn't good around children). She knocked a kid over at the dog park once and started to initiate almost a warning before attack, so I could never trust her off the leash. Just a few weeks ago she bit my niece and every day since it got worse. It was almost like blood lust and Sunday night our African Grey Parrot fell and she constantly tried to attack him, so the other dog was protecting it and my step-dad had to tackle Bailey. I made the tough decision to put her to sleep, but realize I should have done it much sooner. I've been crying for days and wanted to understand why through my guilt, I felt calm and at ease over her being gone. Reading your story really helped clarify that I no longer have to worry about her hurting someone, or feeling nervous of those coming to the door. I miss her very much, as she was my best friend and incredibly amazing to me, but only me. I really wish I could have helped her, but thank you very much for what you wrote - I feel much better about my decision to let her go and think she may feel better now too.


Phyllis DeGioia 
September 16, 2014

Evan, I am so sorry for your loss. Trust me, I know what it feels like to love a dog like that.


Evan Deutsch 
September 16, 2014

I am so glad I read this article. I put my rescued rottie down last week after she bit my neighbor. No warning, no provocation. I felt guilty, but I know it was the right thing to do. The next victim (and chances are there ) could have been mauled and that person could have been a child. She came to me damaged and there is nothing I could do about it.


Phyllis DeGioia 
September 15, 2014

Kathryn, I'm sorry to hear about this. Did your mother need medical treatment? I presume you have worked with a trainer or trainers specializing in aggression?   Let me assure you that you are not a terrible person for thinking about euthanizing your aggressive dog. Ten bites over the years from a dog that size and weight is more than considerable, and he should not be rehomed as the stress will likely increase his anxiety and aggression. Do consider how you would feel if he went for your daughter instead of your mother's dog; he is several times your daughter's weight. I understand what it feels like to face this decision and see that something must be done. What does your veterinarian think? My heart is with you.


Ollie 
September 13, 2014

I totally understand how you feel Robert. I had to put my precious dog to sleep 5 days ago. She was perfectly healthy and only 5 yrs old but had shown bad signs of anxiety and aggressive behaviour for some time now ,she would go crazy if anyone came to the door or if me or my family were to go out she would go crazy as well. She started to nip people as they were leaving as well and had done this to my uncle and neigbour. I spent thousands on training options. She had always been an inside dog but we tried her outside several times as we have a newborn that's around 10 days old. I feel so guilty and sad and have been feeling very depressed by it all. I tried to rehome her but we had nobody willing to take her on and I feel that a new home would have made her more anxious. I just hope this sadness passes soon as its eating my heart out. I just wanna be able to enjoy my new born baby without feeling this way. Reading everyone's messages here has given me some comfort knowing I'm not the only one going through this alone


jamie 
September 13, 2014

I've read so many of your stories and I thank you for sharing your pain and insight.  A month ago, we had to euthanize our Dapple Chiweenie, Cobie.  This blue-eyed boy went from fear aggressive to totally aggressive.  Two trainers, medicine, and as much love as we could give this little guy.  It was, by far, one of the most difficult decisions my husband and I had to make in our 33 years of marriage.  We had four dogs in the years past...all lived 15 1/2 years plus.  Loving kind and gentle.  Our Cobie bit numerous people, including me on several occasions.  What drew the line was when he was licking and wagging his tail with our grandson one moment...and then went after his face the next.  Thank God our grandson got away quickly because it could have been awful.  The "stress" it causes in the home to own a dog like this is beyond words.  We loved our Cobie.  Sometimes, however, we have to make decisions in life that are not pleasant.  Are not fair.  Are not what we want...but cannot fix with love, trainers, or medication.  We were so grateful and thankful to our Vet and the entire staff for their love, direction and guidance and support in making this heartwrenching decision.  Realizing that when he was sedated, before the euthanization, it was the FIRST time since bringing him home as a puppy that we could hold him, pet him, kiss him.  Such sadness.


Teri Ann Oursler 
September 12, 2014

Jeanell >>>How do we know if he is beyond help?<<< I think you have to listen to what your heart is saying (your daughter comes first) and what your vet has to say when you talk to him.

>>> Even while in his kennel he snarls and growls and snaps when we have guests.<<< 

 >>> we have time to devote to the right kind of training ( whatever that is) nor do I think we can continue to put our child , guests and neighbors at risk in the meantime.<<<

From your description, I would have my doubts that he can be helped.  I, as a veterinary professional with no kids at home, would not adopt him with those behaviors and I would not put people at risk while I tried to train him, it does not sound safe.  What did your trainer say?  Did they believe he would ever be totally safe, or can he only be controlled with a kennel, etc.? As you know, as your child grows, there are more interactions with your child and other children, thereby putting even more stress on you to control the dog from biting any other children. I know that Sherman the beagle was deemed a dog who was never going to be truly safe around people.  Deep down I did not believe this information from the veterinary behaviorist and my child got bit because I was  in denial, because I believed all dogs could be trained to be non-aggressive.  I was wrong and my child paid the price (thankfully with no lasting physical or mental scars). My heart goes out to you as you make this decision, it is never easy.  Ever!


Phyllis DeGioia 
September 12, 2014

This article about dog bites was written by an animal control officer in Oregon. She says the *average* cost paid out for dog bite claims nationwide was $27,862 in 2013, according to the Insurance Information Institute."
http://www.oregonlive.com/pets/index.ssf/2014/09/pet_talk_a_look_at_what_happen.html


Jeanell 
September 12, 2014

We have a dachshund mix who tried to bite our 19mo daughter in the face with no warning the other day. Back in December she pulled his tail and he bit her on the temple. (We thought, she hurt him, who can blame him?) It broke the skin in only one place and no stitches were required. At the time we were already working on training him. We thought about getting rid of him then but our trainer recommended keeping the child and dog separated and only allowing interactions that we can control. We have been really careful ever since and have had some But earlier this week while we were having good interaction time, I had a hand on both of them, she wanted to hug him so she leaned every so slightly towards him. With no warning growl he went for her face. Because I was right there I was able to prevent him from doing any damage. But once again we are faced with what to do now. Clearly the dog is a danger to our child. Even though we have a kennel where he stays while my daughter is in the same room, it is impossible for us to completely eliminate interactions between them, nor do I really see that as a solution. We are having to accept that this dog is aggressive and the training we went through did not help with that. He has nearly bitten a few of our guests and lunges at neighbors while we are out walking. Even while in his kennel he snarls and growls and snaps when we have guests. We do not believe the dog is beyond help (maybe we are wrong.) My husband would like to try a different training program but I have many doubts. I do not think we have time to devote to the right kind of training ( whatever that is) nor do I think we can continue to put our child , guests and neighbors at risk in the meantime. We love this dog dearly and he has been part of the family for 3 years now. He is very sweet and loving to us and other members of our family. We do not want to see him euthanized. But we are afraid that no one else will adopt him because of his aggression. If it is possible to fix his aggression through training it would be preferred, but as I said, we have already tried one training program and I have doubts about the effectiveness of any other. But our child comes first. (FYI: our old trainer said she believed the dog had been abused before we got him- we rescued him from a shelter). We are going to talk to our vet about our options tomorrow. Our hearts are breaking over this and we have no clue what the solution should be. How do we know if he is beyond help?


Kathryn 
September 11, 2014

I'm at a lost.  I feel like a horrible person.  My Great Dane of 8 years has now bitten his 10th person.  This last time was my mom and it was pretty bad.  He wasn't going for her I don't think, but her dog and he bit her instead.  My five year old was right next to her.  I don't know what else to do but put him down.  I don't trust him around anyone except for my daughters and I, but now I'm starting to doubt even that. 


anon 
September 7, 2014

I have a pitbull/boxer mix that I adopted when she was about 2 months old, she is now almost 2 years old. I have always liked dogs but when I adopted Nova I really started to take more of an interest in dogs and now I completely love dogs, especially pitbulls/boxers! She was not an easy dog to take care of; she needed a lot of attention. She has a cruciated ligament in her leg which causes her to be in pain although she does take medications for it.  Nova really was such a sweet dog most of the time. She loved being around people and we always came home to a greeting from her at the door. She would always get so excited to see us when we came home from being out, she would hug/kiss/tail wag etc. Nova bit me twice, and my mom once. The two people who take care of her more than anyone. Even though she bit me twice (once in the face, now on my finger) I still love her and want to keep her. She has been evaluated and we've tried to get help but she isn't getting better and I know she will bite again. Now, this week is when we have to decide if she should be euthanized or not. This breaks my heart , but it seems it is our last option.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
September 6, 2014

Robert, I am so sorry for what you are going through.  You are doing the right thing to protect your son and you are doing the right thing by releasing Daisy from her fear.  You are correct, rehoming her would only elevate her stress. I am also very glad that your son suffers no critical damage! My heart goes out to you.


Robert 
September 6, 2014

Today I have to put down my beloved Daisy. She is 6 years old and is fear aggressive. We have spent thousands in training, added another dog to help calm her down and have essentially isolated her. She is great with us when we are alone. In the past she was great with our baby. Our baby is now 4 years old. 6 months ago he grabbed her from behind and she nipped at him breaking the skin. She has had more anxiety with us leaving, nipping at us, biting guests that are leaving, going out of her mind when guests are simply sitting down. she is not right in the head, and we have tried everything we can to help her. Last week my 4 yr old was playing chase with the other dog. Daisy went into her kennel which she will do when she is not comfortable. My boy went into the kennel  to get her out because "it wasnt time to   go to sleep yet". Although he claims she bit and scratched him, based on the wounds I think it was a scratch (her nails are really long and she wont let us cut them). I was home and had left the room for just a couple of minutes. He came around the corner bloody and terrified with half of his face scratched up and bleeding. Fortunately the wound only required one stitch and although he will likely have that scar forever, there was no critical damage. It could have easily been his eye. We have had her quarantined for the past two weeks. This morning I am taking her in. This is not an easy decision. she is a sweet dog, but we cannot fix her. This has been a tough morning and will get tougher as the time draws near, but the decision is clear. To send her to another home would only cause extreme stress in her and is a liability. She has to be put down humanely. 1 hour left. this sucks but I know its the right thing to do.


Darin 
August 31, 2014

Please forgive my poor grammar just wanted to share my experience on august 26th I had to but my best friend Boss my English Bull dog to sleep he began having seizures in april of this yr vet but him on meds and help for sometime but he began having them again staring the week of august which followed 2 more seizure then started being aggressive he bet me one night when I picked him up to but him in bed with me he just wasn't himself anymore the or seizures changed him he would pace all over the house couldn't seem to relax and he wouldn't let me out of his sight so on tues the 26th I took him to the vet to have his nails clipped and talk to doc about what could be done but he came out of it and tried to bite doc at that point doc told me that wasn't the dog I use to bring in and best thing for me and him was to put Boss to sleep that was a very hard decision make but I didn't want him to be fighting whatever it was going on in his head anymore cause I know what its like I fight depression and alcoholism I stayed with him while they did it I talked to him I loved him and I would miss him he was at peace finally he road home with me in front seat of truck with I got home I buried him under a shade tree in the back in a antique carpenters boxes along with his comforter I still wonder if I did the right thing I feel like I let my best friend down Boss I love ya pal again sorry for the poor grammar just wanted to share


Beth Van Allen, CVT 
August 30, 2014

I completely understand what you went through and I give you kudos for taking steps I wish many pet owners would do. Having been through the same experience with two of my dogs for aggression - one ended up being medically related and one ended up being the same situation as yours - it is a heartbreaking situation. I still remember both those boys with fondness and their quirks. Loved them both. But I had to do what was the best for them, and what was the best for me and the public in the case of the second one.


Crystal Nosal 
August 14, 2014

My boyfriend and I desperately need support. After reading your comments, I feel like this is the right place to ask for advice. We adopted our loving boy a little over a year ago. He is a Lab/Sharpei/Pit mix. He bonded with us right away, and quickly became the most loving and loyal dog I have ever known, he also quickly started showing signs of aggression towards other people and dogs. Leash aggression pretty much started right away, followed by a few scuffles at the dog park, then an attack on a very large Alaskan Malamute. No harm was done in any of these instances so we became diligent about leash training, avoided the dog park, and kept him away from large dogs, thinking that was his trigger. His aggression towards people started to show about a month after we got him. He would charge people, lunge at people, jump up and nip people. So we met with a trainer, she assured us he wasn't a killer and showed us some techniques to use when people entered the house. We tried our best, and he seemed to be getting better. Then we had a baby and moved. Once we moved he seemed to regress a little. He went after one of my friends like she was a dog. He didn't bite, but I thought he was going to. Finally he jumped up and nipped my landlord. She asked us to remove him or we would have to move. Moving wasn't an option, so we sent him to an angel of a friend who was committed to rehabilitating him. He seemed to be doing so well with her pack, we thought everything was going to be ok. Then, he attacked her male dog. Her dog ended up getting 18 stitches. The vet said he "bit to kill" based on how deep the puncture wounds were. Needless to say he can't stay at that foster home anymore. We have run out of options. We love this dog so much and the love he shows us is unbelievable, but he is dangerous. We have the option of putting him in a no kill shelter, but are worried that he may be adopted out to a home that can't manage his behavioral problems, leading to someone getting hurt. On the other hand we are also very worried that the right home will never come along and he will be left to deteriorate in the shelter. He is a very sensitive boy and gets stressed out very easily. I just don't see him doing well in the shelter. We are considering euthanasia to avoid both of these potentially terrible situations, but can't help think that the perfect home may come along, and we don't want to rob him of a good life. Please, we need advice. We are in so much pain and are struggling. We have to make this decision tomorrow. Thank you in advance for any words of wisdom anyone can offer.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM
August 28, 2014

Angela,I am so very sorry you are having to go through this.  It is NOT easy.  As I read your comments, the following sticks out to me: "it scared the hell out of me....and the woman." "but I can't imagine another 5-10 years of this type of behavior" "I’m exhausted, overwhelmed' ""muzzle punched" people.' "After dog training classes and seeing a couple personal trainers" Those statements tell me that you fear for your safety, the safety of people and animals around your dogs.  You have done the training, the consulting with the trainers and it is not working.  Your dogs are too dangerous to rehome. The guilt you will feel when they kill another dog or hurt a person is much bigger than the guilt you will feel euthanizing these dogs. You have given it your best and I think you know euthanasia is the right answer for these two dogs and most importantly for you and the people around you.  You have all of my empathy, it is not easy, but it is right, just as my euthanizing Sherman was right. Teri Ann Oursler, DVM


Mike Davis 
August 27, 2014

Thanks so much for this. We had to euthanize our 10 year old Pitbull today. Heartbreaking. She was affectionate, smart, really well trained and loved people. But we couldn't predict her behavior around our 5 year old. There was a nipping incident where our dog broke our daughters skin when she was 2 which meant a trip to the ER, and a scratching incident a few months later with another trip. We couldn't bring ourselves to get rid of the dog or euthanize it. For almost 4 years we kept our daughter and the dog apart. Recently though my wife let the rules get lax and there was another nipping incident which broke the skin. We had the fortitude this time to do what we needed to do. I will miss her so much but I will not miss the energy we won't have to put into constantly making sure our child isn't in harms way. The dog was a rescue - she had 7+ years with us - she was loved and she died peacefully in the vets office with both of us there petting her and telling her how much we loved her.


Julie Iorns 
August 27 2014

Leslie, My heart truly hurts for you and what you're going through. I'm glad that you could relate to my story. As devastating as this whole ordeal has been, it really helps me to share my story with people who understand and sympathize with what I'm going through. Boomer was one of a kind to me, as Mojo is to you. We are very luck to share our lives with dogs like them. It's an unconditional love that we are blessed to have experienced. With that love, comes pain when hard decisions have to be made. I still deal with a lot of guilt and feelings of having let down Boomer and my daughter, as I took my eyes off of them for a moment. That's all it took. I'll have to live with that for the rest of my life. The amount of guilt and sadness that I feel towards the decision we had to make for Boomer doesn't even come close to the amount of guilt and sadness I would have felt if my daughter's injuries were worse then they were. As parents, it's our job to keep our babies safe. I never would have ever believed something like this could have happened, but it did. Thanks for reading my story and empathizing with me. It means a lot. I'll be thinking of you. Take care.


Angela 
August 27, 2014

I have 2 pitbulls and am struggling with putting them down. One of them is 6yrs old and was adopted from a shelter at 6 weeks old. She's been in 3 dog fights causing serious injury in each of them. After dog training classes and seeing a couple personal trainers they all concluded she has poor bite inhibition. Being removed from her mother at such a young age she wasn't able to learn valuable skills such as dog body language and bite inhibition. She isn't reactive when she sees dogs and can be around them with no incident 98% of the time. She is the most loving, calm and obedient dog but completely capable of killing a dog. My other dog is 4 and I got her from a "breeder" at 7 weeks. She has always been a crazy handful. She's leash reactive; lunging, growling, barking etc. I've spend literally thousands of dollars on trainers and classes. She's very obedient until she sees another dog then she charges and air attacks them. She has never shown aggression towards a person but has "muzzle punched" people. She attends a dog daycare run by one of my training schools and is very shy and they've never seen problems in a group off leash environment. This weekend they were both laying on my deck when a woman with a tiny dog walked behind the deck (I live in a townhouse with general free space behind my lot, no fences) My dogs jumped the deck and charged her dog, steam rolling it around until she pulled them both away from her dog. No one was bitten or injured but it scared the hell out of me....and the woman. I'm so torn between being more vigilant than ever with them, keeping them muzzled and thinking about every move I make with them or putting them down. They didn't hurt the little dog but all it would've taken would have been one bite. If it was a larger dog that would've started fighting them....I can't even imagine. I kind of feel like it was a warning to me, reminding and showing me how little I've accomplished with all my greatest efforts. It's so tough but I can't imagine another 5-10 years of this type of behavior especially considering it will most likely only increase. I don't want to wait for the day the one dog decides to start biting, the other dog tears into the next dog or they team up on and actually injure on together. I guess what makes it overwhelming is one is very manageable but potentially deadly to a dog while the other is very difficult to manage while showing indications of possible dangerous behavior developing. I’m exhausted, overwhelmed and have no idea what to do.


Leslie Merchant 
August 26, 2014

Julie, I could have written your letter word for word only changing the children's names. My Mojo is a gorgeous black standard poodle. Personality, looks, energy level, attachment to me, all mirror your relationship with Boomer to a T. Two kids, 11 years, and 5 plus bites with punctures later on both my kids and two others, and I am at my wits end.  I can't have him maul my 6 year olds face when she walks by him on her way out of the room. It is breaking my heart but I can't predict when he will lash out again, nor do I want to face those consequences. Thanks for your story, like I said, I could have written it myself.


Phyllis DeGioia 
August 26, 2014

Chris and Kristin, I'm sorry you are both facing this decision. From your descriptions, both of these dogs go off on no notice (as did mine), and the professionals from whom you have sought help indicate that they can't work with these dogs. First, no dog should have to live with that kind of anxiety and mental health; the dogs cannot be happy. Consider the legal liability and financial depletion from an incident, plus the guilt of a worse attack. Kristin, you are scared of your dog now, even though you have done what the professionals who have seen Louie have suggested. Chris, is it fair to your other dog to allow the golden puppy to keep attacking him? If you feel that the puppy could kill another dog on the street, and he keeps attacking your other dog, it's possible your puppy could kill your other dog. Plus, your golden is not even full-grown.  In both of these cases, my inclination is to go with the professional advice you've been given, although Chris you don't say if you've been to a trainer or behaviorist specializing in aggression. I loved Dodger too - he made me laugh like no other dog I've had - but I can tell you that life without him is one without fear or worry, and the household and other pets are now calm and happy. Facing this decision is gut-wrenching. I know, I've been there. I wish you both luck in your choices.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
August 25, 2014

Chris, I am sorry you are having to go through this.  It sounds like you have done your best, going to a positive trainer to try and work with your dog. If you cannot keep your dog from all other animals (and that is really hard, if not impossible), then it is probably time to euthanize.  Not only do you need to worry that he could kill someone else's dog, but people could be badly injured trying to protect their dog from yours.  That is a nightmare that would be very hard to live through. You are in my thoughts as you walk this road.


Quentin Nell 
August 25, 2014

I have a 4 year old English Bulldog who I have had since a puppy. Around a year and half he started showing signs of fear aggression. He has never bitten anyone or any dog, but I believe that is because we take extra precaution when taking him out. We live in an apartment complex, so there are always people coming and going and other dogs. We took him to UPenn to see Dr. Wilhemy and she diagnosed him with Generalized Anxiety disorder. He currently takes 40mg of Fluoxetine once a day and 2 tablets of trazadone daily. We are getting married soon and want to have kids, however with Teddy it is impossible. I feel we have done everything we could possibly do to help him. It's hard to even comprehend putting him to sleep, because he has been my buddy since I was in college. However, I don't want to be forced to put him down because he bit someone and remember him that way.


Kristin 
August 23, 2014 

My boyfriend and I have a 10 month old golden retriever named Louie. My boyfriends parents are the ones who had him and I fell in love before Louie even had his eyes open. We decided to keep him. When he started eating food we could tell he was food aggressive. Then other things made him aggressive. Now we never know when he is going to snap. He never gives warning signs. He has attacked everyone he has been around. My boyfriends sister had to get stitches. He recently just bit me. He attacks other dogs. Everyone is afraid of him. He has had a trainer and it didn't help. The vets I have taken him to are afraid of him. One of them told me to go to a special trainer that deals with aggressive dogs. I took him. She said he was wired wrong. She could tell by the stories and by the way he acted during the consultation. She told me she could not work with him until we find out what is wrong with him since its something mental with him. I called a vet specialist and they are talking about all kinds of tests and tons of money. Louie is my baby boy. But now I'm scared and nervous around him. We have been talking about keeping a muzzle on him all the time but what kind of life is that? I'm in tears writing this because after I read your story I am scared it is never going to get better. I feel like it will be to hard to euthanize him. I'm scared I won't be able to if we need to. What are your thoughts?


Chris 
August 23, 2014

I am struggling with a different problem.  My dog is dog aggressive and it is escalating out of control.  He has always been aggressive with new dogs from the day I brought him home at 8 weeks old and he met my daughters 10 wk old puppy, he attacked him and pinned him to the ground.  He has been to 3 different trainers, one of which was a positive behaviorist.  Nothing has fazed him, he will attack any strange dog and has now started attacking my other dog.  The bad thing is you don't see it coming, they play and interact very sweetly and suddenly he lays into the other one which such viciousness.  The other day my other dog just walked in to the room and got attacked.  I have no doubt that if he were to escape our house or yard and come in contact with someone walking their dog he would kill it.  I live in fear of that happening. What hurts the most is that he is so good with people, he loves kids and will roll on his back for a belly rub every chance he can get.  His tail is always wagging and he has never shown one sign that he would ever harm a human. I know I have to euthanize him, he is a 5 year old 80lb dog that is super powerful and would terrorize anyone that saw him lunging toward their dog.  Living with that guilt would haunt me far more than the guilt I could ever feel from euthanizing him, but I know I must.  It is such a heart wrenching decision.  I freeze at the thought of taking him in to the vet.


Tammy Parson 
August 21, 2014

Today was a rough day. We had to put down our beloved 3 year old Lab "Bogey". He was very mild mannered up until about 4 months ago. He bit my 15 year old  nephew in the face when he was cornered. Then my sons friend came for a visit from California and they went walking and his friend tried to hug him and he bit his head and the boy had to have 6 staples. Bogey was just released from quarantine on Saturday and he bit the little girl next door on the lip and she had to go to the ER for 20 stitches. We decided it was time to do something and this morning my son and granddaughters came to say goodbye to Bogey and he tried to bite the 3 year old. I know it was for everyone's well being but I feel like I have a hole in heart and to watch my 18 year old son grieve for his best buddy is Awful. I just hope he knew how much we love him.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
August 18, 2014

Julie, You are correct, being able to share the pain is helpful. I euthanized Sherman 10 years ago this August, and I still think about him, but thankfully the pain is not as sharp and I can remember the good times and the parts of having him in my house that were good.  You will get to that point also, we all just heal at different rates.

 'but I just can't wrap my mind around why it is hurting so badly if in actuality that was the right thing to do??"

 I think this stems from our desire/belief that anything is fixable with enough time/love/commitment/money or whatever.  Did I watch too many Disney movies or too many reruns of Lassie?  I don't know.  I know that as a vet, I certainly felt like I failed Sherman, after all I was the professional, so why could I not fix him?  Because, just like there are unfixable medical problems, regardless of time/love/commitment/money, there are behavior problems that cannot be fixed either.  The world is full of unfixable problems, Sherman was one of mine and Boomer was one of yours. Know that Boomer is in a better place and your child is safe. Take care.

 


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
August 18, 2014

Heather, My heart is breaking with you.  You have tried the trainer and the behaviorist and medications.  From your description, you do not believe that your children are safe.  I have to concur.  It is only a matter of time before he backs up the growling with a bite and the guilt that will inflict on you will be worse than that of euthanizing your dog.  I know, I have been there and done that with Sherman the beagle and my son.  I did not euthanize at the first bite (or the second or the third...).  And I lived to regret it. Another lady wrote today that she had to put her dog down 5 weeks ago, after he bit her 17 month old on the face.  She feels tremendous guilt for turning away for only a moment.  Thankfully her child is not going to carry scars on her face. I wish there was some way to make this less painful for everyone, but keeping your children safe is very important and not re-homing your dog where he can bite someone else's child is just as important. Let me know  if I can do anything else to help.


Julie Iorns 
August 18, 2014

I am overcome by such emotion as I sit here and read all of these stories. It was 5 weeks ago today that I lost my Boomer baby. I was blessed to have had Boomer for six short years. My husband and I raised him from a puppy, and what a gorgeous handful of a German Shorthaired Pointer he was! Although I'd always grown up with dogs, Boomer was my first dog as an adult and he was MY dog. He went everywhere with us and was like velcro with me. Everywhere I went, Boomer would follow. Bath time, laundry, relaxing on the sofa...it didn't matter as long as he could be right there with me. Being a GSP, Boomer always had a lot of energy. But, that was fine with us as we were very active and helped him burn that energy. However, despite being active and well loved, Booomer dealt with some separation anxiety and anxiety around loud noises, especially fireworks. When Boomer was 4 years old, my husband and I found out we were expecting a baby girl. We were so excited, but anxious as well. Boomer had some nervous tendencies and was not always comfortable around young children. He got nervous around their energy and had a bad experience with one of my nephews, where my nephew hit him repeatedly in the face. After that point, he was always wary of children. However, as soon as I found out I was pregnant, Boomer changed immensely. His energy level became more calm. He was so respectful of me and stopped jumping up on me in excitement (which was how he greeted me every time I came home) and even went so far as to come up onto the bed on the opposite side as me so as not to jump on me when I was laying down. When my daughter arrived, Boomer was the best dog with her. He was so gentle and good with her. Boomer loved to play tug of war, but with my daughter, he would let her take anything out of his mouth and it was just like he knew she was a baby and something to treat delicately. Then, we had an incident between him and my daughter 5 weeks ago today. I am still so numb and distraught, as I still haven't fully processed all that has happened. The morning was like any other. I had just gotten back from running errands and was straightening up a bit, as my Mom and brother were coming for lunch. My daughter ran into the living room, with Boomer in tow, when I stopped to answer a phone call. Next, I heard three loud barks and my 17 month old crying. I'll never know exactly what happened, but ultimately Boomer bit her twice on the face. The bites were not serious enough to need stitches, but there was a cut above her eyebrow and serious swelling and bruising on the left side of her face. When I ran to see what had happened, my heart just sank. I knew that I had just lost my dog. I cried and cried as I tried to clean up and console my daughter. I feel so much guilt and keep replaying that day over and over. If I just hadn't answered that phone call. If I hadn't been concerned with straightening up the house for company that was coming. All of these things run through my mind and I can't help feeling if I hadn't been preoccupied, things wouldn't have happened the way they did. I knew for my daughter's safety I could not keep Boomer any longer. The decision is just killing me. I contacted several purebred rescues, who would not touch him because he had bitten someone. I was so scared to re-home him (of course I would have been honest about the events that had taken place), but Boomer was just so attached to our family and me especially, that I was so afraid that his anxiety would lead him to either be mistreated or to lash out again at someone else. After talking with our vet and going over all of our options, we decided the best thing for Boomer and our family would be to euthanize him. It has been 5 weeks, and I still cry everyday thinking about him. He was Mr. Personality and I just have this horrible empty feeling without him. I have received a lot of support and people tell me I did the right thing, but I just can't wrap my mind around why it is hurting so badly if in actuality that was the right thing to do?? I do take some comfort in knowing that Boomer had a great last day. He had his favorite meal and spent the day at the park with my husband and I, chasing geese, squirrels, and swimming in the stream. He was at peace and surrounded by love when we let him go. I'll never forget that day and will have to live with this for the rest of my life. I know time is a good healer, but I just don't know when I'll ever start feeling better. Boomer was a beautiful dog. We got so many compliments on him wherever we went. He was a character, too and made us laugh all of the time. He was one of the smartest dogs I've ever met and I swear he understood what we were saying. He just had these eyes that looked into you and connected. Unlike any dog I've ever had. Through Boomer's short life, I met a lot of people and had a lot of experiences that I may not have if it wasn't for him. I take some comfort in that. And I'll never forget him. I still feel his presence all of the time, on our walks, at the park, and I hope that he'll be with me always. I truly empathize with all of you that have had to go through this trauma. If you've made it to the end of my note, I thank you. It helps to talk about it and realize I'm not the only one who has had to go through this. Boomer was my baby and I'm not angry with him for what happened. I'm just filled with so much sadness that I won't be seeing that goofy boy everyday. My shadow. Until we meet again, my sweet Boomer boy. Run like the wind. Run like the wind.


Heather
August 18, 2014

My heart breaks reading your story, like you i am in very similar situation. I have a 2 year old German Shepherd that i have had since he was 8 weeks old. He is my baby and it breaks my heart that i am at the point where he needs Euthanized. It has been an uphill struggle since he has been with us. He has been in obedience training since he was 9 weeks old up until 8 months ago. The last training we had was a private trainer i had called in for a behavioral issue with growling and fear aggression. I have tried the option of a behavioral consult with the Vet and numerous medications with hopes of him "getting better" he has not. He has bit 4 people total (thank goodness all close enough that it wasn't turned in.) I have two small children in my home (5) and (3) that he has now began growling at. Both of my kids have always been so good to him it breaks my heart he doesn't act like their best friend... It is with a heavy heart that i have been considering putting him down. I just don't know what else to do.


Lynne 
August 17, 2014

We have a 1 year old border collie with fear aggression.  He was either born this way or the breeder let something happen to him as a pup since we got him at 8 weeks and he was already growling at every stranger and other dog.  Living with an aggressive dog is difficult.  At first I worried about our kids and we were ready to put him down if needed but we have also invested a lot of time and training into him.  Most people would just give up or not spend the huge amount of time needed with hours of daily training needed to work with a fear aggressive dog but we fell in love with him.  We feel he is 100% safe with our kids now and us.  He has made huge gains in his anxiety and aggression.  He used to want to attack anyone he saw, now after a few minutes to adjust, he can be off leash with ADULT strangers in our house if they agree to ignore him.  He cannot be touched by strangers and he  does not trust the unpredictableness of children so he is crated if children (other than our own) are in the house but given the progress we have made in one year, we are hopeful that someday he can recover enough that people can come into the house without him caring at all.  So, the moral of the story is that rehab CAN work if you are dedicated and find the right behaviorist and medication and stick with it and work through many daily hours of practice.  Good luck to all who are dealing with it.  My hope is that we continue to have success and never have to put our boy down.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
August 17, 2014

Tara,

  I'm torn between euthanizing him and living my life this way for another 10 years : ("

 " I don't trust him with having friends in the house and yes he has bitten two friends and also me."

"Being fearful of someone or another dog getting hurt or a medical bill to cover, he will not be returning to daycare."

Those 3 statements tell me that neither of you is happy right now.  Rocky is fearful and aggressive and you are isolated from friends because you cannot trust him around anyone.  He has even bitten you, so I am sure you are nervous around him as well.  Living with constant anxiety is not good for either of you.

"he has come a long way"

You have tried hard and spent the last 2 years working hard to make him a less fearful dog who can enjoy you and your home.  This has not worked simply because some animals cannot be fixed, regardless of how much you have tried to do so.  This is exactly the place I found myself in with Sherman, the beagle in the story. I know for absolutely certain that Sherman is in a better place, no longer afraid.  I know that my family is in a better place (and certainly safer) having put Sherman to sleep. You describe not being able to take Rocky outside if anyone else is around your complex.  To me that sounds like an accident waiting to happen.  You can try very hard, but you cannot control everything around you and if someone gets hurt when you have Rocky out on a walk, it would be very hard to live with. I absolutely agree with you, re-homing him is not fair to him or to anyone who took him.  You certainly don’t want to hear that he hurt someone after you re-homed him.  That guilt would be worse than the guilt associated with euthanasia.  And his fear and anxiety would only go up if you re-home him, making his aggression worse. Having walked a mile in your shoes, I know this decision is hard and never made lightly.  From your description, I think your trainer is correct, euthanasia is the best choice for you and Rocky.  Remember, you are not failing Rocky by choosing euthanasia, but releasing him from constant fear and anxiety and probably saving someone (you, or one of your family members or friends) from being severely hurt.

 


Tara 
August 17, 2014

I adopted 4 yr. old Rocky through a friend 2 years ago that was moving and couldn't take him.  It was a situation where if I didn't take him, he would have been euthanized.  That person did not properly train, socialize or exercise the dog.  This led to some aggressive behaviors. I have taken him to several trainer and classes and he was able to be accepted to doggie daycare.  Doggie daycare was my saving grace.  Knowing that he had an outlet to be a "dog" and the supervision of people who used training techniques gave me comfort.  When he is with me, we can't socialize with other dogs or people, I don't trust him with having friends in the house and yes he has bitten a two friends and also me.  He has been attending this daycare for about 5 months.  It is an off leash facility.  Yesterday, I was told by the daycare manager that they can't reach to grab Rocky by the collar when he is fixating on another dog.  I have a problem with this too.  Rocky will bite if someone goes to reach towards him when he is in that state of mind.  The daycare said he will not be able to come back if he bites someone. Being fearful of someone or another dog getting hurt or a medical bill to cover, he will not be returning to daycare. I've had to pick up another job which now leaves Rocky at home for sometimes 10 hours alone. I was thinking about trying to re-home him.  After thought I realized that he would probably not be adoptable.  In a conversation with a trainer I worked with, she said she would recommend me euthanizing him.   I am not in a situation where I am being forced make any decisions now. But I am feeling stressed, not having the daycare to rely on.  I'm single and am realizing that everything revolves around Rocky.  I have to walk him at specific times of the day, I have to wait till no one is outside my complex before opening the front door and having company come to my apartment is complicated.  I've looked into another trainer, but financially I can't afford the high cost. I love him dearly and he has come a long way, and I do feel a bit selfish. I cry every time I think about this, but I also feel that my quality of life is hindered.  I'm torn between euthanizing him and living my life this way for another 10 years : (  I'd appreciate any advise!


C Amariles 
August 14, 2014

I just wanted to thank everyone I too am facing the same thing with my St. Bernard and it is killing me he is only 5 but has been biting us just because this last bite really hurt my son and had me running to the ER for sutures, all of this has been a nightmare I appreciate the honesty, people who comment with dumb responses like how could I do that is because they don't understand unless they've experience what we have.


MP 
August 12, 2014

Thank you for your article.  My wonderful rescue lab that we had for 1 1/2 years quickly became my daughter's best friend.  She had a complex partial seizure one night and had signs of fly snapping that we didn't know was a sign. Anyway, she bit my 7 year old's face so bad she had 3 hours of plastic surgery and still needs one more surgery. Our dog was our love.  The act was so aggressive and like Teri, I will never get the sight and sounds of the attack out of my head.  The vet recommended that we put her down.  I know it was the right thing but it will be a year this week and we are still grieving her loss.  She was such a good dog up until that one unprovoked night. My daughter does not fear dogs but it has left me with an image, I can not erase.


Heidi Ripke-Curcio
August 11, 2014

I sit here reading all these comments.  I have spoken to many people.  I know what I have to do, yet it is so hard.  I told my husband that I would let them ake my right arm, if I knew that Otto would/could be well.  He loves me, trusts me, looks to me for help, protection.  He hates my husband.  He ha gotten him several times.  Once he put him in the hospital for surgery.  He has never hurt me unless I have tied to stop him from giong after my husband, separate him from my husband, or distract him when he has gotten upset about other dogs in the neighborhood.

Now I am faced with euthanasia of my sweet, scared, boy who trusts me for protection.

I wish there was a magic wand, a pill, anything really to make him well.

I don't want to be selfish. I wish I believed all those things that people say about him being in pain, and the demons in his head.  It would make it so much easier.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
August 10, 2014

Greta, I want you to know that my heart goes out to you as you make this very difficult decision.  You are correct, the next few days are going to be difficult, but thankfully that will ease with time. It sounds like you have worked  very hard to keep Gucci from biting people, but as you say she is a high anxiety dog.  I think you are 100% correct, that rehoming her will increase her anxiety and make her aggression worse. As for your 9-year old, my son was 8 when we put Sherman down and I did it the same night he attacked my son.  Even though my son was the one who was scared and hurt, he too, did not want to see Sherman euthanized.  I spent quite a bit of time, talking to my son about how miserable it is to live in a state of fear and anxiety day after day.  We had tried very hard to rehabilitate Sherman, but it was not to be and that, having just come home from a 6 mile hike in the mountains, Sherman had just had a great last day. I let my son spread Sherman's ashes and we picked out a photo to frame and put in his room.  That was 10 years ago and we are all at a peace with that decision, but it did take time to get to that point. I also know Sherman is in a better place, where is he is not afraid and where he gets nothing but love.  He can introduce Gucci around. Take care of you and your family. Teri


Greta 
August 9, 2014

Like most of the rest of the commenters, I am here because I have an aggressive dog and feel that our family is now facing the reality that we are going to need to say good-bye to a beloved family member.  We have had Gucci, a weimaraner, from the time she was just 6 weeks old. She is now only 2. I am an experienced dog handler, have shown in the confirmation ring, and have had weimaraners for the past 15 years.  Our oldest weim is now 13. Weims can be tough to handle, but we know that and have done well with them over the years.  We lost a 12 year old to cancer just a couple of years ago, and Gucci became a part of our family a few months after that loss. Gucci is a sweetheart to our family.  She sleeps in our bed, cuddles with our small boys, age 6 and 8 and is full of all the personality that weimaraners have. She is obedient, comes when she's called, etc. BUT she bites.  As of about an hour ago, she has now bitten 5 times. Weimaraners can be high anxiety dogs, and I work from home so she is rarely ever alone more than a couple hours.  Every time she has bitten, it has been when neighbors or strangers have come in our yard.  She nips at the back of their legs when they walk away.  There is no warning.  She has allowed them to pet her, she has been fine, and then when they walk away BOOM!, she goes straight for them. This last bite was the worst, she nailed the poor young woman and left clear puncture marks.  We helped her clean the wounds and she was more scared than physically injured, but we are just sick about it.   I know we have made excuses long enough.  We don't have people over and when we do, we leash her.  When the neighbor children come to play, we make sure she is confined while they are here. We have invisible fencing and she stays in the yard just fine, but she does bark at the many cyclists and runners as they go by.  I know it's a matter of time when that fence may go down or she just won't care about the warning and shock and will go through the line to attack.  I know we can't risk another injury to a person, especially a child. My heart is breaking and our 9 year old  is deeply distressed about what is to come. How can you euthanize a family member? I don't feel rehoming or rescue would be the right answer for our Gucci.  She is so bonded with our family, I think with another family, the anxiety may make her aggression worse.  The next few days are going to be difficult for our family. Sometimes the best decisions are the most difficult ones.


debbie 
August 7, 2014

This coming sat. I have to put my beloved chief down. He bit me several different times most of them unprovoked. He is all right 86 percent of the time But like Dr. jackal and Mr Hyde his brain works. I can not grab his collar with out him growling. Sometimes he will growl when petting him I thought he was trying to purr because he was raised around cats. He is an Australian cattle dog and Australasian shepherd mix. The guy that we got him from said he had dingo in him. My husband let me get him even when he had reservations about him. He was all right with our cats but the vet saw something was not right. he was food aggression  then he just gotten more spaced out looking. Then he grab my sleeve of my sweater and just would not give it back. Then he started to want to bite at me different times. I had to hide my bruises from my husband and the bite marks of broken skin. Now this coming sat. in august 2014 we have to put him to sleep. So he will not bite me again or someone else


KimJ 
August 5, 2014

I have had my aggressive dog for 12 years so our story is long filled with triumphs and traumas. He was always highly managed, put on prozac, amitripylene and on going behaviour modification after seeing Dr Overall from UPenn. Shep is an Aussie we rescued from an idiot who kept him in a pen 24/7. We have adjusted our lives for 12 years. never had children, parties, vacations (rarely) but I've always went with "you have to do, what you have to do." Also we've had to live with being fired from kennels and vets. Shep has one police record and that is from a vet. One other bite too. (a 4) I finally found a vet who would see him (and its a chaotic awful experience for all) and she has been amazing. Shep is 14 now. He is sick. Not sure what is wrong. But given his age, it's probably not good. I'm deciding right now if I should have him PTS this week. He wouldn't be able to have any kind of constant check ups or certainly wouldn't do anything like chemo. We've worked so hard and have come so far...and now I will kill him bc I *think* he is very sick and because of his aggression further treatments are not realistic. This dog loves us so so much. We love him. This article and the comments have helped me and I thank you all for sharing your heartbreaking story. I am alone with this decision you all have helped me not feel so crazy. Especially those who have said they don't know how they will survive the decision. Then the loss. As I type this my Shepherd is peacefully sleeping on the couch. He has no idea that I will end his life soon. I'm sorry Shep.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
August 4, 2014

Carol, Yes, it will get easier.  Time does help heal all wounds, it just does it one day at a time and sometimes that feels too slow.  I know that I still feel guilt over euthanizing Sherman (the beagle in Phyllis's story), but I know deep down that I did the right thing, releasing Sherman from his fearful life and protecting people from his biting. You ask yourself "did I try hard enough?"  Your trainer and your veterinarian both believe and assured you that you did the right thing.  And they truly have nothing to gain by telling any untruths, so accept their counsel - you did do the right thing!  Putting her in a shelter would not have alleviated the guilt, it would have fostered guilt about leaving her there and wondering if she was adopted and if so, who did she bite?    I can't imagine the horror you would feel if you opened the newspaper to find that Abby had been adopted out and subsequently maimed or killed  a child.  That would be infinitely worse, in my opinion.  I don't think you will be blacklisted from adopting a dog because you put Abby to sleep due to aggression.  Use your trainer and veterinarian as references, as they know you did the right thing for Abby as well as all of the people who you encounter on a daily basis.  In reality, if a rescue is such that they are adopting out aggressive dogs, you don't really want anything to do with them anyway.  You don't want to have to travel this path again, once is plenty. I feel for you Carol, it was a hard decision to make and tough to live with, even though it was the right decision.  Some days it really does suck to have to make grown up decisions and I want to go back to being a kindergartner where I don't have to make any big decisions, they are all made for me. Teri Ann Oursler, DVM


Carol Frizzell 
August 4, 2014

It has been a month and a half now since my beautiful 2 tear old Boxer, Abby, was euthanized.  Does it get easier?  I still burst into tears when I think about her.  I still play the "what if" game in my head.  What if I didn't try hard enough?  What if I sent her to a shelter instead of that dreaded room at the vet clinic?   Both my trainer and veterinarian have assured me that I made the right decision with Abby.  My daughter has pointed out the dangers and risks that keeping Abby would have (and did) present.  She was worsening, and all the training and various therapies (including medication) simply didn't work with her.  I've found out the name of the kennel she was from, and realize they were indiscriminate breeders. Abby was not to blame.  She didn't stand a chance. But I have a question for you readers, and the answer evades me.  How do we cope?  I am so ashamed of euthanizing Abby, that I have developed a basic answer when asked where she is, "Abby is in a place where there are no other dogs nor children for her to attack."  It isn't exactly a lie, but I feel guilty. I want to get another dog eventually, and I fear that I will be black listed off from any rescue organization out there.  I'm sure you all know of the stringent application process potential adopters go through.  As soon as they discover I euthanized Abby, I am toast.  I won't be ever considered as a loving parent to a dog.  But if you ask my 9 year old lab who is lying at my feet right now, he will tell you different! I feel pushed into having to go to a breeder for a puppy, simply because I know the rescue groups will not accept my explanation. Have any of you dealt with this, too?  I would be interested to hear how you did.


PamelaL 
August 1, 2014

Thank you for sharing your story. I am on my way to the vet in the next hour, and wanted to read how others have handled this difficult (but necessary) decision. It's at once heartbreaking and the right thing to do. It took until Jackson bit me and sent me to the emergency room (after biting others less seriously) before I could even consider putting him down. Even then, I had him evaluated by a person who trains police dogs for area K-9 units to see if his aggression could be channeled properly. The trainer spent an hour testing him and concluded he would never be a reliably safe dog, let alone suitable for police work. Reading your story is that extra little bit of comfort I needed got put Jackson in the car and head to the vet. Thank you again


Phyllis DeGioia 
August 1, 2014

Joe, I am sorry to hear about Equis, and just as sorry to hear that you are struggling with the decision. I know your heart is aching, and mine hurts for you. Remember that aggression typically escalates. If he's bitten a child in the face badly enough to warrant plastic surgery (I presume they are suing you?) remind yourself of how much worse his behavior would likely have become as time went on. The legal liability alone could be devastating to you emotionally and financially, not to mention what guilt you would experience if he caused a worse injury. Dealing with grief and financial devastation would be incredibly difficult. I can tell you that time is a great healer. I hope that you can make your way through this terrible time and eventually find another dog that you will love as much as Equis, but without his aggression. Please take care of yourself.


Joe C 
July 30, 2014

I euthanized Equis 2 days ago, and I am having crying fits.  I have guilt and rage and an empty feeling.  I'm told I did the right thing, but I'm pretty sure I murdered my best friend.  I saw the fear in his eyes before he went limp in my arms.  He bit a neighbor's child, and he may need plastic surgery.  The bite was unprovoked and the best I can tell was over food.  The boy was giving him milk bones, and Equis circled and jumped grabbing his face.  I was still holding his leash. I grabbed the dog and he then bit him on the leg.  He had a previous bite that I attributed to being afraid of the weight pull cart noise on the track.  I have been taking him to dog shows and he had over 1/2 the points needed to be a champion.  If I was bitten or if I had intervened in time to prevent the bite I would still have him.  Because of his breeds negative image all the people I knew through dog showing feel he needed to be euthanized because poorly breed human aggressive dogs are all over the news.  I feel horrible about what happened to the boy, but my heart aches for my healthy active 2 year old dog, but I had him killed, and I'm not sure I can live with it.


JMarie 
July 30, 2014

I, like many of you, read this article and the comments with tears streaming down my face.  My husband and I suddenly lost our 8 year old dog in December.  We were devastated and debated long and hard over what to do.  We decided to buy a lab puppy because we wanted a "sure bet" that we'd get a good family dog and be able to train it from day 1.  We worked so hard with that puppy.  I took him to puppy classes and puppy socials 2-3 times a week.  He had a structured home environment, we worked so hard on training him.  From day 1, he also had to wait to eat his food.  We made him sit and wait until we said "ok".  We thought we had done all the right things.  When he was about 3 months old, he suddenly started showing aggressive growling behavior when he had a rawhide he was chewing on.  I was shocked. His behavior escalated very quickly.  It was not only his toys, chew items, it became things he'd find around the house.  When he cornered me in the shower because he was chewing on my sock and I was completely defenseless, I knew it was serious.  Still, we kept thinking if we just did the right training, we could fix him.  He was so young!  He was a wonderful adorable lab most of the time, exactly as he should be!  We went through 3 trainers, tried different methods, and paid thousands and thousands of dollars but have not been able to fix the problem.  He even spent 4 weeks at an intensive dog camp.  When we got him home one of the weekends to try and practice the training, he bit me leaving a huge bruise on my calf (wasn't the first bite we had received).  We tried to work on more training in the yard for over 2 hours that weekend and could not get him to submit to us. Once we were done, completely exhausted, mentally, physically, and emotionally, from our dog aggressively lunging at as, knowing he could have bit us and caused great harm if we hadn't been prepared, we knew this was it.  He had even showed aggressiveness when I told him to "leave it" when he was chewing on the carpet once.  He is so unpredictable.  9 times out of 10 he'll give up the item, its just the unpredictability of when will it happen?  Some trainers say you have to control his environment, but how do you stop a dog from finding something he thinks is "his" all the time?  He bit me over a bone he found in the park once.  I can't prevent him from finding items 100% of the time.  I can't stop him from guarding a sock, or the carpet, or whatever other random item he finds that is his. He also started pinning other dogs in the park if they come near him when he has a ball or toy.  I felt extremely guilty for some time thinking, if only we'd have done a different training method sooner, or what did we do wrong?  But what I realized is we didn't do anything wrong.  He has something wired in his genetics that is causing this.  My friends from puppy classes who have dogs the same age as him don't have issues.  My last dog never, ever came close to biting me.  This dog has bit me and come close to biting me too many times.  My husband and I are starting a family. We made the decision we can't keep him, but now the question is, are we setting him up for failure and putting other people at risk to even consider trying to ind a new home for him - even if we're completely honest about his behavior?  How do we know what the right answer is? How will I deal with the guilt either way - abandoning my dog or having to end his life?  It's so devastating and heart breaking I can't even comprehend. What happened to the loveable family lab we thought we were getting?  Why can't he be that all of the time?


Michelle Smith 
July 30, 2014

I find your story very comforting in my time of loss. I had my dog put two days ago and I am an emotional wreck. I have struggled for four years taking Brixton, a Cane Corso Mastiff, to UPenn for a behavioral assessment, had two behaviorists come out to my home, and he was placed on an anti anxiety (Clomipramine?) as well. The anti anxiety actually lowered his bite inhibition. 95% of the time he was an amazing dog. He trained well and was my best friend. Long story short, he became unpredictable when walking him on the streets of Philadelphia. I muzzled him which appeared to make him even more unpredictable. He bit my boyfriend twice and his dad once. He has nipped numerous times. I recently moved out to the country and thought maybe the land would help with his aggression. It seemed to at first. I had him around company and children and he appeared anxious, but eventually would calm down. The last straw was when my brother in law was over and he followed him to the bathroom while his aggression continued to escalate. This is someone he has met numerous times. As Brixton began to reach to bite him, I intervened and grabbed his collar. He then bit my hand. I did not go to the hospital and managed the wound myself. There was some swelling for a few days and I could not utilize my hand at all the first two days. I don't really care about my hand. I did still have some restraint with me, but what if it was someone else that intervened? I continue to be tearful and feel extreme guilt. Its only been two days and I am struggling with how to walk around this house that was filled with his energy. I swept his fur yesterday and I lost it. I am struggling to cope. He was my best friend and I feel like I failed him. Reading your story and I believe there is another article regarding Dodger and aggression? Is helping me to find solace in a very crappy situation. I would never forgive myself if my nieces or nephew where here and something happened to one of them. I cant say he every would, but I could not say he would not. I managed his behavior for four years,  but I felt like is was getting any better and in some ways worse :/


donnasue 
July 28, 2014

I was in GSD rescue and sometimes you just can't save them all - put resources in those dogs that can be rehabed, those that cannot are a real danger to society and those who vote against dog laws. As a trainer I've seen this too often, and it's no one's fault if the genetic/behavioral wiring gets screwed up. It's never easy, but it's the kindest thing for all involved.


Stephanie Day 
July 28, 2014

Owning an aggressive dog requires a lot of management.  This is similar to owning a pet with diabetes.  There is no cure for diabetes, and there is no cure for aggression.  Ideally, each person in this situation would sit down with a competent behaviorist and discuss the risks involved in owning an aggressive dog.  Then the decision can be made.  Is the owner willing to accept the risk that goes along with managing an aggressive dog. This part of the equation also can go poorly when the poor owner is given poor advice, rooted in dominance theory.  Dogs are aggressive because they are fearful or anxious.  They may present with confident body language, especially if they have a history of learning their aggression drives away or stops the scary thing.  Advising an owner to “discipline, punish, or otherwise increase the dogs arousal and fear level” is contra-indicated and falls well below what we know to be the standard of care.  Consult the AVSAB position on punishment or dominance if this information is new to you.   If the owner, who is bonded with the dog, is unable to accept the risk of owning an aggressive dog, then euthanasia may be the most humane option.  It is not humane to rehome these dogs to unsuspecting people or old school dominance/discipline trainers.  These dogs are at high risk for abuse and neglect because most people do not comprehend how much worse punishment can make this situation.  They don’t know the side effects of punishment, and they cannot read dog body language for subtle signs of anxiety.  They may also perceive a shut down dog, offering no behavior, as the ideal result.  This conflicts with the actual ideal result of a relaxed, confident dog who has learned things aren’t so scary.  A dog with less anxiety and fear, who has learned more tools to cope with an overwhelming environment. Managing and training an aggressive dog can be a profound undertaking requiring more resources than many people have to give.  It requires as much work as taking care of a small child, perhaps one with autism.  It is not shameful to admit you don’t have the resources to help a dog whose wiring is abnormal.  The people who do are few and far between.  Aggressive dogs far outnumber the environments/ families that could help them.  It is OK to be frustrated and overwhelmed by the environmental management strategies and learning that an aggressive dog needs.  It is OK to put the dog to sleep.  Dogs with extra anxious wiring need special handling and learning from puppyhood on.  They can not rebound from stress or punishment like a normal dog can.  One bad experience and they have learned something you did not intend. It is a great tragedy being people not recognizing aggression in dogs is rooted in fear and anxiety.  Similar to crying children.  They are not bad, stubborn, or in need of “discipline.” They are in need of help to deal with overwhelming emotion.  People focus too much on suppressing the outer behavior because it is inconvenient to them, and not enough on investigating an attending to the underlying source of the behavior.


Jenelle Jones 
July 27, 2014

Thank you for sharing your story I has given the courage to do the same.


Carrie 
July 27, 2014

Thank you Phyllis for sharing your story, and thank you to all the commenters with their stories. I had to euthanize my beloved corgi Izzie two days ago. She came to us an anxious puppy 6 years ago. At her first vet checkup when she was 8 weeks old she bit the vet. We worked diligently with her to properly socialize and train her to be a happy, healthy dog. But her anxiety kept growing. Over time we had to remove triggers from her life and ours. We haven't watched a movie with horse noises at home in 5 years; she hasn't played with other dogs in 4 years; its been two years since I could trim her nails or brush her myself, and a year since the vet or vet staff could handle her without a muzzle. We tried training, sequestering, love, and then medication to help her fight her demons, but in the end they won. She tried so hard to be a good dog but she was so afraid all the time her quality of life was awful, and we were tired of the constant stress and biting. We joked when she was younger that she had bitten all of our loved ones, until it was true. I hope wherever she is she's no longer in such pain and mental anguish. My family looks forward to moving on and remembering her at her best, not at her worst.


Kelly 
July 27, 2014

Last night we made the decision.  After months and months of intensive training, seeking the advice of professionals, reading anything and everything I could find on how to work with my aggressive, young dog (a rescue from the Navajo reservation in AZ)I know in my heart that Remy cannot be "fixed." Two times in two days he went after someone unprovoked and with no warning.  Thankfully no one was hurt just terrified.  I, like so many who have commented on this blog, have struggled to make the "right" choice for him and for my family.  But, as I have come to realize what I want and what is best are not the same thing.  I want the puppy we expected to have when I first saw the adorable photo of this blue merle fluff ball, gamely trying to crawl around his whelping box shortly after he was rescued from a life of deprivation and neglect in the desert. Even after he first started to demonstrate these alarming behaviors I went into research mode- reading, talking to friends, talking to rescue groups, trainers, vets and anything else I could think of so that I could "fix" him.  But, as heart breaking as it is to me, my children, my husband- he can't be fixed and he is unsafe.  It is because I love him so that I will set him free to cross "The Rainbow Bridge."  I hope that in doing so my sweet boy will finally live a life without fear, without aggression and feel the peace that he has never had here.  Thank you to the author and those who have shared their stories. It is an indescribable relief to hear the stories that show me that I am not alone in this difficult situation and having to make this untenable decision.


Norm 
July 25, 2014

Today we had our 5.5 year old female Rottie put down.  It was very hard to do, but it was correct, for many of the same reasons as Phyllis' story above.  She got more aggressive over time and was way too protective of us and the property.  The term "not wired correctly" seemed to fit her.  She did bite a neighbor, and did a 1-mile chase of a family of bicyclists when a side gate was left open.  That happened two years ago and it was clear now that things were digressing.   So, now there are no worries that a gate might be open (in fact, I can take off the lock on that side gate...) or that she might think we want to take something from her.   It was a quiet house when I returned home tonight, and that made it all the sadder.  Was it lack of training, reinforcement, praise, discipline, or something else?  The vet previously said that she had a screw loose in her head when she attacked him in the examining room (muzzle was on). I was way too patient and very slow in taking care of the situation. Now let the healing begin, please.


Bear's Mom 
July 24, 2014

To Phyllis and all the commenters, thank you so much for sharing your story, it has really helped me. I first found this blog three weeks ago after realizing it was time to make a decision regarding my beautiful Lakeland Terrier.  She was never a ‘normal’ dog in that she did not seek or give affection and enjoyed doing her own thing. I blamed it on the terrier independence. But as she matured and became an adult she had more difficulty coping with everyday things and thought she may just be ‘special’.  From loud noises to visitors to dogs – she became very reactive and anxious. She began to defer that anxiety to our other dog through aggression. It got pretty scary multiple times.  But, I figured it was something I could manage.  And then she attacked my 2 year old nephew at my parent’s house.  We didn’t know he was in there, we were just stopping by to say hi. Thank God he was okay because he had a big winter coat on which protected him.  Two days later we dropped her off for a 7 week inpatient rehab program with one of the best behaviorists in New England.  When she came home we adapted to new boundaries and were showed exactly what we needed to do to set up our girl for success. Was she better? Yes, but only to a certain extent. With our vet and behaviorist’s encouragement we started her on a daily dose of fluoxetine (Prozac) and that also helped, to a certain extent.  We continued training at home, obedience schools, and with the behaviorist.  She got to a point where I could predict her triggers and behaviors so I thought I could still manage her. Well, last month she boarded with our behaviorist for 3 weeks. When we picked her up he gave us a dose of reality. He explained she’s better than she was two years ago, but she’s stuck in a bad place and will not get better no matter what we do. He explained some dogs like her aren’t wired right, and whatever she can’t handle now, she’ll never be able to handle.  Still, I thought I could manage her.  Well, the following weekend she went after my nephews face, completely unprovoked and she showed no remorse.  We were simply leaving my parents’ house; I had her on a leash and with her basket muzzle on for safety, thank God.  Although there are many instances where we knew ‘this should be it’ that incident was the final straw. I could not put my family, neighbors, other dogs and even her in danger any longer. No dog should want to repeatedly and without provoking want to attack a child. I knew completely then and there my dog definitely wasn’t wired right.  It took me days to actually call my vet just to make an appointment to discuss her future. I talked with my behaviorist and he gave me validation that it was time to set her free of her demons.  My vet explained and validated that she had a disease, not just a behavior problem. My husband and I set our little, gorgeous, 2 days shy of being 4 years old terrier free this past Saturday. It was very, very difficult to say goodbye. But I cannot feel guilt. No one can say ‘you should have tried this’ because believe me, I did! My little dog flew to heaven feeling loved, freed of her demons, and knowing she never has to disappoint her mom and dad again.  For anyone else that has gone through this or is in a place having to make a tough decision, realize you are not alone. I know you love your dog because I love my dog as much as any owner could. I loved her enough to know what she needed.  Now I have to transition to a life where I do not live in worry or fear that my dog is nervous, anxious, unhappy or will hurt someone else. I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders which I did not expect, but know I made the right decision.


Carla 
July 23, 2014

Last week I had to have my most beloved dog 'Sausage' (terrier) put to sleep after he bit my 11 year old son's face. Although there were significant puncture wounds to my son's nose and top lip, he did not require stitches. I called the vet out there and then and made the most painful decision I've ever had to make. The guilt and shame I feel is nothing compared to the way I would have felt if my son had been more seriously hurt or if it had been another child (I have a younger daughter, children in and out of the house and little ones living next door). It was not the first time the dog had bitten and despite all the training and and responsible ownership, the vet said I was doing the right thing. Sausage had been mauled by his mother at a week old and spent the first 4 months on a scrap yard - I'd rescued him two years ago. His spine was damaged and he was going to have trouble in later life with pain and disability. Your article gives me strength to realise that I did do the right thing - a dog's life cannot be more important than my child's health and I would have been irresponsible re-housing him. Incidentally, the relief (and subsequent further guilt), is odd but I've now I realised how much of my time was spent running around after the dog to ensure no one was hurt. I miss him terribly.


Kristie 
July 21, 2014

Thank you for your story. We are going to have to put our Tiger (pit bull mix) down due it aggression. We have two small children. I have tried everything and have been told it will only get worse. Your story is helping me through this incredibly difficult time. I am absolutely devastated.


Julia 
July 20, 2014

I hope I can briefly explain my situation...Here goes...My mother and step-father have always had Chows...The one I'll be referencing is their 3rd one...A male, 4yrs old...Last Nov. my step dad received a terminal diagnosis and then only 3 weeks later my mother ( who wasn't in good health) passed away...Up until that time "PawPaw" had shown no aggressive tendencies except for being very aggressive towards any food that might fall on the floor,i.e. if it hit the floor don't even attempt to pick it up, it was HIS...Because of that he did nipped someone at their house who wasn't warned in time...Since my mother's death he has bitten the same female neighbor twice ( the first time just a nip, but the second time definitely more vicious and broke skin)...She's a dog lover, has known him since he was a puppy, and we don't know why he turned on her. Yesterday, my stepfather passed away and now we ( his 2 adult children and myself) are trying to decide what to do with him...The dog was actually my stepdad's and ultimately the decision is his kids...I was hoping that one of them might take him as they both live in the country and on some acreage...On the other hand I live just outside a city on a busy road...My yard isn't large or fenced in...I also have a small dog who, while PawPaw has never been aggressive with, is still afraid of him...PawPaw seems to like me "OK" but is very fond of my husband...About a year ago when my youngest ( 15 ) went to pet him at my mother's though he growled at him, and again we aren't sure why...My son is very good with dogs and likes them. Anyway, both have indicated they aren't comfortable taking him and we are now looking into possibly finding him a new home, but not having much luck...They are going back to their homes mid-week and it is now Sunday and I feel like the clock is ticking...I've been reading about Chows in shelters ( dogs period really) and that doesn't appeal to me...I'm afraid he won't be adopted and will become even more aggressive because of insecurity and fear...Or worse yet, "adopted" by someone who wouldn't want him for the right reasons and mistreat him. Watching him lay in the yard last night watching people walk by ( which he's very good about), as we discussed his fate, made me feel awful...His life's been turned upside down and all of this is through no fault of his own, ( other than the biting behavior he's beginning to exhibit)...He's young and can be very sweet...I obviously have the ability to "save" him by saying I'll take him, but if I'm honest I'm not sure I want to do that. While this has nothing directly to do with the dog...6 mo. before I lost my mother I lost one of my children and now my stepdad...That's all my life's been the past 18 mo...Part of me just wants a normal life back but the idea of another death is also overwhelming too.  TIA for any thoughts/comments.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
July 16, 2014

According to behaviorist Valarie V. Tynes, DVM, DACVB, in her 2008 peer-reviewed paper "Behavior Myths," http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/advanstar/vm0908/#/36 the most dangerous canine behavior myth is that aggressive dogs act dominant, and that to show the dog who is boss, an owner should lay the dog on its back and discipline him as the human is the leader of the pack. The human certainly should be the leader, but these dogs should be trained using a type of positive reinforcement called the "no-free-lunch" method that teaches the dog that the owner is trustworthy and predictable, and not likely to fly into anger.  Over the past 25 years, both veterinary and non-veterinary behaviorists have said that punishment based-techniques are not appropriate for aggressive dogs. Usually these dogs are anxious and fearful and this type of training actually makes them worse, not better.  Sadly, this theory of dominance training was incorrectly extrapolated from a wolf study.  The truth is the polar opposite of the myth: in the wild, subordinate wolves show deference to dominant wolves by rolling onto their backs - the dominant wolves never force subordinates onto their backs.  This tactic makes no sense from a training point of view, plus it is dangerous to the dog, who only learns that people can be terrifying - and getting rolled reinforces his view - and the owner can get bitten.


Jeff 
July 6, 2014

If you cannot claim dominance over an aggressive dog you too (or someone you know or may not know) will be a statistic of another dog attack.  Your best bet is to give up the dog (before it attacks anyone) and find yourself a dog that is very calm and submissive. You'll be doing yourself and the dog a favor. This is a moving story and I believe that euthanizing the dog was the correct decision but it could've been avoided. Sure she took it to exercise but that alone isn't enough. I didn't read anywhere in the article on how she disciplined the dog after any attacks.  I am not saying you need to hit the dog, but you need to lay it down in its side until the dog submits and knows that you are not the one to mess around with and that you are the leader of this pack. Dogs can learn, but if you don't claim dominance, by nature, the dog will.  ***editors note:  This comment is posted out of chronological order so that it could be adjacent to the response from a veterinarian (above).***


Jessica 
July 15, 2014

Thank you. I found this article while I am struggling with what to do with my best friend. His name is Lesnar, and he is aggressive. Ever since we rescued him as a puppy he has been fear aggressive, and we bonded hard, so he's protective aggressive over me. He's not even four, but his behavior is becoming dangerous. I have a seven year old. Lesnar has never bitten anyone yet, but I don't want it to come to that. We've trained, but the aggression will likely escalate with age. How can I put down a healthy, young dog who has calmed my fears, brings us toys when we come home, licked my daughter's tears, and has the silliest personality I've ever seen? Your article reminds me of my buddy, but I don't want myself or a family member to be seriously injured because I can't let go. I also fear forcing Lesnar to live an uncomfortable life in a constant state of rear and vigilance. Ugh.


Mattie 
July 14, 2014

My dog is an emotional disaster. We rescued Beaker (yes, named after the muppet because of his crazy hair) from a puppy shelter when he was 15 weeks old. They rescued dogs from a high kill shelter. If I'm honest with myself, I should've known from the day I picked him out, he was struggling. He was excited to have me in the kennel with him, but he couldn't relax when another person walked by or another dog was brought out. Anyway, flash forward 1 year. He has been an amazing protector and friend to myself and my daughter. To everyone else he has seemed a high risk threat, even my husband. The day and space seem to short to write the the things I love about my dog or have come to fear about him. I do have enough time, however, to write about how my life has changed for the worse recently. He bit someone. Hard. I have made excuses for his unpredictable and sometimes alarming behavior in the past, but tangible evidence has made me realize we have to act. Beaker loves me and my daughter with all he has, but it's not enough to keep him from his own demons. Beaker is scared of life, especially life without me. No narcissism here, but he literally needs me to function. Sad. So so sad. Our incident happened after my family and I left for a bbq. We left him in the backyard as we always do. We came home to find a broken fence and soon to be broken home. He was so scared. Beaker tried to stay here after he jumped out of the fence the first time. He bit lady who happened to be walking by on our driveway, (broken skin and an ER trip) then he jumped back into the backyard. Our neighbor said he was pacing and nervous. Then the police showed up and tried to get to him in the back. That's when he broke the fence trying to get away. Then they tried to shoot him w tasers and he jumped the fence and took off. Fight or flight. We didn't find him until 3 am. Scared, covered with sambers and asphalt burned pads. He was so relieved and excited to be home and back with us it broke my heart. We have up put him down. Breaks my heart even more. I love him but I can see his brokenness. What life does he have if everytime I leave he is sent into, essentially, a legitimate panic attack until I come home? He loves me and my daughter to the point it's scary. He is on guard when my husband hugs me and has rushed him when he plays with our daughter. Love to the point of fault. Too many incidents to detail, but feel as if I owe it to him to mention his love. I'm sad. Guilty. Tired of being on guard myself with him and constantly wondering where I went wrong. Could I have tried harder. Loved more. I'm ending a life. I am. Does he know? He's going to follow me to the end literally and willingly. That's what's is breaking me down. I love my dog and thank him, but I couldn't live with myself if I ignored his illness. I'm looking for peace with my decision. I hope I find it.


Linda Bergren 
July 14, 2014

I am responding to this article through my tears as we had to put our dog to sleep just a few hours ago.  I think I loved this do more than any dog I have ever had.  He was only 2 years old and was a rescue lab/pit mix. He was a wonderfully sweet dog with my husband and I but suffered from fear aggression with other people and dogs.  We tried everything thing with him to change this behavior, four different trainers, including one boot camp for 3 weeks which helped in a lot of ways but nothing including medication changed in behaviour when he would see other dogs and peopled.  We rarely had people to our house unless we boardered him for fear he would bite someone.  He did bit 3 people.  Regardless of his behavior I was willing to do whatever it took to protect other people just so I could keep him.  Today, I took him out for a quick pee and we saw a woman and her son and he went crazy, more so than usual and while I was trying to control him, he bit me, breaking the skin.  I know he was out of his head and didn't know what he was doing, but I also know that if he had gotten away from me he would have bitten the other people. This is absolutely the most gut wrenching thing I have ever had to do. I am filled with sorrow and guilt for doing it but also for the first time ever I was aggressive with him.  I want to have good memories of his and not that I was being mean to him.  I did give him love though before he left with my husband.  I pray I can find peace of mind as time goes by with all this. Thanks for listening, I know it is going to take a long time to heal.  I am going to miss my sweet little Charlie.


Dee Kevan 
July 10, 2014

I am so so pleased that I have found this blog, I am in a situation now and upset that I think I have no option but to put a perfectly healthy dog to sleep. She was rescued off the streets ( we live in a Country with a huge street dog population, and where a large percentage of locals are terribly cruel to the dogs and also scared of the dogs, so they throw rocks etc at them etc etc) I rescued Ruby off the streets aged about 4 weeks old, she was lay at the side of the road in a terrible state, We had just moved to this Country for 3 years with my husbands job and this was the first time I had ever seen so many malnourished dogs roaming. I took her home, we already have 2 small dogs that we had brought with us, both my husband and I are experienced dog owners and I also work daily with animal shelters here. As soon as Ruby was around 9 months old she became a bully to my other 2 dogs, snapping at them, chasing them to bite their legs etc. Ruby is now almost 2 years old, can be so so loving, but only when she wants too, she is a loner, fearful of almost everything, a cough can send her from a sleeping position to running outside to hide. In the last year, it is escalating, she has almost ripped off my elderly Jack Russells ear, for no other reason than the dog was walking past her, if one of my dogs walks past her, she will nip at them. She loves going for our daily long walks on the beach, but now will chase my elderly one and try to bite her back legs, then the last few months, she has started to become aggressive to anyone she see's on the beach (Rarely do we see anyone as we live quite remote)  She runs up barking, snarling and trying to bite them. Tonight is what has made me seriously think that maybe the time has come for her to be put to sleep. I saw on the beach this evening, way ahead a young couple who were obviously backpackers, I called Ruby, but she would not come back, which is unusual and she then ran to the couple barking and snarling, meanwhile I was running as fast as I could towards them, they had to back into the sea, fully clothed to escape her but she continued snarling and going towards them. As I approached she then ran away, only then did I realise the young woman was carrying a young baby on her back. The woman was very shaken and scared. I apologised profusely, they were very good about it, I offered for them to come to my house to get out of their wet clothes obviously they declined. I was unable to catch Ruby as she was now on a mission and tried to bite my elderly dogs back legs, I finally caught her and took her home. She knows she has done wrong, she is still shaking and cowering 3 hours later, lay on her chair. We have no animal behaviourist or anything like that here, our vet thinks we should find her a home as a hunting pack dog - we know exactly what happens to them and declined. I have been over the last year reading and trying various dog training sites on the web, but to no avail. She has become so scared of even the smallest things and noises. My 2 elderly dogs are absolutely petrified of her and won't walk past her or go into the garden if she is out there, she is becoming more and more disobedient and won't come when called. I have tried a muzzle and she totally freaks out, throwing herself around. Lead when out, although I walk with friends and their dogs and they all run free on the beach no problem until she see's anyone walking/cycling/jogging and then she is off after them barking and snarling. Any thoughts please......I just don't know where to go from here, I just dread the day she bites a child etc Many thanks


Ncbos 
July 7, 2014

Thank you. My husband and I have to put down a rescue tomorrow. He's aggressive toward our 6 year old. We've tried everything. It's so hard. Thanks for sharing your story. We are not alone!


Lauren 
July 7, 2014

I'm so sorry you had to go through that.  But I also agree with every word you wrote.


Cathy 
July 7, 2014

Your article really helped me. I may have to put down my beloved Peaches. She has attacked several dogs over the years and it is getting worse as she gets older. She has started growling at me and this morning she almost killed one of my small dogs. She has never been hit or abused in any way. I am sick over this, but I have tried everything and still it happens periodically. Just when I think we are over the hump, she does it again. I am so sorry that you went through what you did, but your experience is really comforting b/c I pretty well know that I am going to have to put Peaches to sleep.


Jen 
July 6, 2014

The day my aggressive dog ended up at the e-vet with an obstruction because he'd grab and ingest clothes when strangers came to the house and he was locked away decided it for me. It needed to be done, but I would have never decided to do it had we not been at the point of thousands for surgery or euthanasia. He started out a sweet puppy. The notes at my regular vet said so. He got neutered at a discount place via the shelter he came from, and came home a mess. He came back unable to be vetted without sedation or muzzling. I tried a different vet thinking it might be something at mine, and they sedated him for a rabies shot. My vet just handed me the muzzle to put on him, the same dog who they never had problems with prior. I didn't know we had someone over the house and let him out, and he bit the person. He came after me so many times. I'll never know what happened to turn him from a bold puppy (the place I trained at had confidence classes for fearful dogs, and we joked he needed anti-confidence classes) into a dog who was fear aggressive about all sorts of weird stuff. I think we ordered pizza that night. We hadn't had a delivery since he'd been neutered. The packages that needed signatures were chucked at the door if it was a regular delivery guy.


Martha H 
July 4, 2014

Thank you for all the comments on this site.  It has helped to know we are not alone.  We tried everything to help our dog after 8-10 months of abuse (which he had suffered before we found him at the shelter).  He was skin and bones, had kennel cough and a bowel obstruction,  and had been kept tied up in a yard with no socialization his whole life before we adopted him.  Our lives revolved around him for 14 months to help him adapt and live a happy life.  Special training, diet, multiple vet visits and tests (everything possible), walking only in places and at times when he wouldn't encounter other dogs (daily, and with vigorous exercise), and finally meds (anxiolytics and antidepressant).  When our other sweet dog (whom he had known since he came to live with us) was shaved for the summer, and he attacked and was going to kill him (leaving me hiding in a room with him for 24 hours, and multiple attempts to "re-introduce" them) we knew we couldn't continue.  Euthanizing him was the hardest thing we've ever done, but I also know it was the right thing to do. Our entire lives had been spent to try and give this dog the love, training and kindness no one else had given him, but it didn't work and wasn't enough. Our vet said she hadn't seen people do as much as we had done, and that he wasn't "wired right".  At his age (2 years) he was coming into his own, and this was not going to get better, despite all we had done.  She told us months earlier we needed to put him down....finally when the safety of our other dog (and my husband, who had been bitten multiple times from "displacement aggression") was in jeopardy, we knew it was time.  i couldn't live with myself if our other dog had been killed.  Thank you everyone- it's taken me weeks to write.


Shauna 
July 3, 2014

Yes I am afraid I will ruin a friendship over this but I think it may be the moral thing to do.. They have talked about training and have talked to their vets but no action has been taken so far. I will give it a few more days and see if anything changes regarding that. Otherwise I think I will have to remind them of the choice I could very easily make. Thank you so much for your response!


Judy 
July 3, 2014

This is an update on our poor little Yokie. My original posts with our story were on 4-24-14 and 4-26-14 for those of you that want to view this sad and agonizing story. Yokie went peacefully to Heaven yesterday at 4pm at our vets office, who has been so supportive and kind during these past 3 months. I/we did everything we promised we would to protect our grandchildren and neighborhood children. He was always kept cabbed when they were here. Unfortunately his aggression progressed to anything he could launch toward either when being leash walked (he pulled it right out of my grasp and went after the next door neighbors 2 dogs) even though they are twice his size! He was biting at their chests and front legs which were at his face/mouth level. He ran right through the invsible fence a few days later to get at them again. And then 2 weeks ago an older couple were walking their maltese around our cul-de-sac and he launched right through the invisible fence to attack the maltese. I ran up the driveway to get him back and could see the woman checking her dogs back quarter - I said "Is you dog bleeding, is he ok" she said he wasn't bleeding she didn't think but they just wanted to leave as she kept checking him(I don't blame them) I knew we were getting the  flashing lights again like when a train is coming down the tracks. I knew that day we had no choice left, something tragic was going to happen. My Aunt became very ill right after the maltese incident and didn't survive after a week in the hopital and I couldn't even cope with what I knew we had to do with our Yokie so soon after her passing. We had 10 people at our home the following Sunday to all have a meal together in memory of my Aunt for her sons & their wives. I didn't want to put Yokies story out there to all who were there so I had to cab him because I couldn't trust that even if my cousins began playing with him that he wouldn't lash out and bite someone - it was all so sad for us to know that he couldn't even be allowed out freely when ANYONE at all was in our home. Our hearts are broken, there was no option left that wasn't deeply disturbing. I could not take these chances anymore. As sad as we are my husband & I know that we did the right thing. This poor little guy didn't ask to be bred so poorly or to not be wired right - it wasn't his fault - I will never be angry with him, he was innocent. But I am angry with the irresponsible nurse who knowingly inbred him and caused him and us, who still loved him, so much pain. Yokie is not suffering with fearfulness and anxiety anymore, he is in Heaven now with my son and my son's beloved dog. I believe that although my son and my other beloved pug did not know Yokie here on earth that they now know him through me and they have welcomed him home to Heaven to be with them - and God has "fixed" in Yokie what we could not and he is so very happy and safe now. God Bless you all who care so much about our sad little not right pets.


Chris 
July 3, 2014

Not an hour ago I got a phone call. My dog (a pit) had gotten out of my yard and bit a young girl on the head and attacked another neighborhood dog. He has had training but I don't blame the training for not working. He was a rescue and had noticeable behavior issues from day 1. I had hoped to help him through those issues. I live in a neighborhood with too many other little kids and animals to allow this risk to remain. I have to put him down. I'm certain that this will happen again because I cannot be there 24/7 and my teenage sons are not responsible enough to handle him when I'm not there. This is the second time in a month an event like this has happened and I cannot allow it a third. I don't want to do this but its the only responsible thing to do. This sucks.


lisa b 
July 3, 2014

 found this article and the comments last Friday and it saved my life. I had to put down Smash Tuesday due to her seriously aggressive behavior with everyone but about 10 folks in this world. I made every excuse possible. I silently cursed at cyclists and joggers and kids on skateboards. How rude! Why did they scare my Smash so? I had surgery on my hand due to the ridiculous pulling and lunging but still i knew she would learn and get better with age. She only got scarier. Sadly, she also became sweeter to us as her lone family. IT was because of another close call(one too many) and this blog that I mustered the courage to call the vet and make the appointment. What sticks with me the most is that the pain is so excruciating and the taking of her life so awful still. I know it was the right choice but not one thing about that made it less horrible. And because she was only 4 and so full of adrenaline and fear she took 25 minutes and two doses to just go to sleep as she shook her head and drooled in panic. I was not warned and this was seriously anguishing but i still am so glad i was there for her holding her in her misery. She will never hurt anyone now but i miss my Baby crazy girl forever. God bless the abused animals


Phyllis DeGioia 
July 3, 2014

Shauna, you are certainly faced with a moral dilemma here: if you request the euthanasia, you may lose the friendship; if something isn't done, someone else may get seriously hurt. I feel for you. Just because it could have been worse does not mean it's acceptable or okay in the long run. Plus, now you are a dog lover afraid of dogs. Your friends are in deep denial about the aggression if the dog has repeatedly bit the owner's 11-year-old son and put someone else in the hospital. Since they think training will "fix" him,  what training have they done? Have they actually done any training or even contacted a trainer or behaviorist? Did they do anything after the last person was treated at the hospital? Perhaps if you found an appropriate local behaviorist and tell them  (don't just ask)  to contact that person  - while reminding them that you have the legal choice to request euthanasia - maybe they will do something about the dog's behavior rather than talk about it or ignore it. If they don't do it now, they never will. Hard to believe they are ignoring an unprovoked attack to a friend's throat. My scars have faded significantly, and I think yours will too. I wish you luck and better sleep.


Shauna 
July 2, 2014

This is a fantastic article that I am so appreciate to have found. About a week ago I was attacked by my friends boyfriends German shepherd, Cooper. In the face. It is something I never thought would happen to me because he knows and loves me, was always gentle and a big cuddler. However, I had witnessed him bite my friend a few years ago so it was always in the back of my mind to not grab his collar, touch his ears or spook him. Then he attacked the owners 11 year old son multiple times. And then last year another friend of the family ended up in hospital and filed a report. It was always bizarre to me that the owner blamed the people rather than the dog. Always saying things like "well it's because she touched him here" or "you're not supposed to pull his collar" (I know plenty of dogs where you can do these without having to worry about your safety). The fact the attack on my face was completely unprovoked is what gets to me and I'm still having sleepless nights over it. Cooper came running towards me to say bye as usual, sat on my feet leaned against me and wanted to be stroked on the head. Like I said: as usual. Nothing out of the ordinary. He just snapped, reached up backwards and grabbed under my chin and on either side of my mouth. Now I know it could have been so much worse, I could have lost an eye or throat been ripped out. But that does not change the fact that I am traumatized, I can't be around dogs now which is so hard because I'm a dog lover. And during all this I am trying to get through to the owners (my friends) but they are so delusional that they think training will "fix" this dog. Like you mentioned, some dogs are just wired differently. Anyway I filed a report had to get some shots and medication, but I won't be forcing them to euthanize Cooper.... I wasn't aware it was up to me but apparently it is. What is it going to take for them to realize he WILL do this again and next time it could be fatal. Now I understand why my dad put my dog Murphy down when I was a kid for biting two friends of mine. At the time I hated him, but now I know more than ever he made the only choice that there was. My physical scars may fade (fingers crossed) but the emotional ones will stay with me forever. I just wish I could make sure I was the last victim of this dog.. Unfortunately I can't decide whether giving the order to euthanize would weigh more on my conscience than not doing it and having something even worse happen down the line...


Fred 
June 25, 2014

Yesterday I had to euthanize my 5 yr old baby.  I'm still crying as I'm writing this. Wilson was a four months old rescue when he took him at home. Since that he traveled and lived in more places than a dog should endure. But life took me around and we ended up in Canada. After our final move. Wilson ' behaviour started changing. He became very overprotective over my wife. And had a few incidents. Nothing serious, luckily. Yesterday morning, during the morning walk with my wife, he pulled so hard that my wife had to let go and he ran straight at a old German shepherd, bite him. Both women freaked out, My wife is screaming, Wilson knows he is in trouble. The other dog turns out fine, jut lost a little fur and the lady had time to calm down. Different story back home. My wife is in tears telling me the story; and it end up with. That's it. Call the vet, he' s gotta go today. Wilson was a 5 yr old,  86lb baby, filled with love well groomed, smart, clean, able to jump on te bed once everybody was asleep and spend the night between my wife and I. His favorite with the "chuck it " and his green ball up and down the street, the best catcher i ve ever seen. I also took him regularly on bike ride with the leash, thats got him tired easy ! but somewhere a wire missed the connection. I went down to the vet yesterday at 430 after spending the afternoon on the bed with Wilson. Cuddling the whole time knowing it would be the last. Once there, he was such a good boy, got on the scale the followed me to the "room" and the procedure went on. He refuses to sit first, and couldn't stop kissing me, finally he sat then laid down. I was crying all my heart as I was peddling on top of his head, his perfect silky back ears. And scratching his belly,  I muffled a last "sleep tight baby" and he took his last breath, his head in my hand. My father in Law who came along and the staff asked me if I needed some time alone. I did. I laid down right beside him, crying all the tears in my body, I kissed him over and over again knowing it would be the last time. He was the most loyal dog and his only crime was that he loved my wife too much. 24 hours later,  It hurts so bad and  I can't stop reliving those last breath,and even if i do t want to accept it I know deep down that was the right decision


Elizabeth 
June 25, 2014

Thank you wonderful strangers. My situation is very raw as it is just a few hours ago. Like many of the posts that I read, I rescued Libby from the dog pound 7 years ago at the age of about 6-12 months. I look back now on the call that I got from animal services saying that she had gone at someone's feet the day before I was going to bring her home and if I wanted to change my mind they would understand. I had my heart set on adopting this dog after having lost a dog about 5 months prior to cancer. I believed that whatever the circumstances were that would lead a young dog to display that kind of behaviour could easily be dealt with though nurturing, training, regular routines lots of walks etc. Initially she was insanely leash aggressive but made great strides though training and consistency. She was a very athletic dog who had lots of opportunities for good runs and plenty of games of what I called "saliva ball". The leash aggression towards people abated a great deal however persisted towards dogs. She became more protective of me as time went on although it was not necessary. I never gave her any indication that that was her job.  I always knew that absolutely nothing would ever happen to me while Libby was around and it is true. She would have protected me to the end. She progressed nicely but there were times where I would walk though the house and I would notice the way that she was watching my feet that I realized was a sign of a pending bite. I would stand up to it and ensure she knew who was boss but it was very unnerving. We used to be able to go to off leash parks where this dog was able to socialize well and walk with other dogs. In recent years a trip to the dog park has resulted in random aggression towards other dogs. She never drew blood but was just a loose cannon. Thus ended the off leash parks. I have not been able to entrain in my home or have anyone spend the night for 7 years because Libby could not be trusted. Recently my brother came to visit and I was going to take Libby to the kennel while he was here. We are both not only dog lovers but are experienced dog owners. My brother convinced me that I was overreacting and all would be fine. You can see what is coming, it was not fine, Libby attacked my brother on his way in the door. She bit his hand and only by his quick reflexes did she not do more damage than she did. The rest of the evening was on edge for all of us. I knew she would be aggressive towards other people but always held onto the hope that she would never actually bite me. There have been a couple of occasions that I have "forgiven" such as oops, I stepped on your toes of course you gave me a snap on the leg, who wouldn't. I am a lover of dogs yours, mine and anyone else's, however I do not coddle dogs by pretending they are children in fur coats. My dogs do not sleep on my bed, they do not sit on furniture they know their place and have a loving environment with the best of care. When Libby bit me this morning I knew it was time. I did not come to my decision lightly and had a long and very tearful conversation with my wonderful veterinarian who has known Libby as long as I have but I had actually known in my heart of hearts that this was coming for quite some time. This morning's bite was certainly not the fist time that had thought about euthanizing her. I know she struggled with facing the world and everything that it entails and she did not have the capacity to deal with it all. I do not feel guilt, guilt is what I would feel if I allowed this to go on and have her inflict serious damage to someone, then I would feel guilty because I would have known it was coming. What I feel is sad, very, very sad and lonesome because I will always miss the antics and the great, wonderful times. I also know that I gave Libby 7 years that she would never have had had she not come home with me. My hand will heal and my heart will heal and I will always have the stories of Miss Libby Beans.


Peaches' mom 
June 23, 2014

Reading these comments has taken a great pressure off my chest, even if it may be only temporarily. In the night, or morning for certain, I'll wake with the ache of what had to be done this morning. My life-loving 1yr old pitbull, Peaches, was euthanized. I beg God to forgive me if I have done the wrong thing. Got Peaches in Jan when previous owner could not keep her in her rental house. Temps were in single digits, and they'd leave her out in it! What was supposed to be 'just til it gets warmer' turned into adoption. Peaches loved playing with my adult foxhound who could give her a run for her money! But the hound grew tired of the constant biting of Peaches at the hound's legs, finally snapped, and a blood bath ensued. Peaches did not instigate this but defended herself. My housemate tried to separate them and Peaches nailed her arm, requiring trip#1 to the ER. A month later, the hound freaked out again in the hallway and lunged at Peaches, who again defended herself. Both dogs were fighting to the death. I grabbed the first thing I could find, a bathroom scale, and wacked them apart. Multiple injuries again to both. This past Sunday at 3:30am, they got cornered up waiting for the back door to open for a potty break, and in the dark, all hell broke loose. Again my housemate (yes, I had told her numerous times, Never Ever get between dogs in a fight!), trying to separate them, got nailed by Peaches, same arm. Both dogs badly hurt. Decision to euthanize Peaches very difficult because she did not start any of the fights!  But vets x3 recommended euthanizing, for many of the reasons listed in other comments on this blog. I wanted to take her and run away, but I felt paralyzed as to what was the right thing to do! What right did I have to play God? This was an 11month old pup, not even in her prime! All she was guilty of was exhuberance for life, and loving, loyalty and playing. But I cut that short. I have felt so evil all day. I could have let her go. Now she is gone forever. I've had no one to talk to, and finding your blog has given me a shred of understanding the moral questions others have posed, and that I cannot control everything that goes wrong in the world. Forgive me for crying all over you all.  Thanks for your support. God forgive me if I made the wrong decision. She was His creation. I only did what I thought was the right thing.


Patrick 
June 20, 2014

I spied her that early day in May, peeking out around a tree, cold, frightened, and hurt.  But she decided to follow Pup and I out of the woods, and found her home.  I named her before we walked two blocks. She’s a Pit for sure, can’t be more than seven months. She is a pink nose, white, with gold spots with the deepest expression I have ever gazed upon. Her femur was broken like someone hit her with a bat. The hip was broken clean off, but she had surgery and recovered physically, She is a beautiful specimen!  She is my Girl, we love her deeply. But something isn't right, She can’t be with other dogs, she is afraid. I wish she could overcome her aggression but Gilda is unable to cope. She kisses the ones she loves, rolls on her back and swims like a fish, but she is dark somewhere deep. She’s possessive to a fault. What happened Gilda? What did they do to you? Pup didn't do anything, why did you bite him? Come on Gilda, we all love you so much! She says I LOVE YOU, especially the twins, but what caused you to Straddle Autumn and put your mouth on her face? What did Autumn do Gilda? Is Onyx only your cat to play with? Dear Gilda, you gave Autumn a stern warning, you caused her to cry out for Mommy. No blood this time, only tears.  We are putting you down tonight Gilda; You've had two full years of love, our very best. You don’t know, you won’t know, I will be strong for you; You will be finally at peace. Goodbye Gillie Girl.


Carol 
June 16, 2014

I'm sitting here with tears streaming down my face.  4 hours ago, I had my beautiful 2 year old boxer, Abby, put to sleep.  I adopted her in October of last year, and spent hours and hours with her - walking, training, going to classes.  She was obedient for regular commands, but did not like my 9 year old lab, Russell. Russell is a therapy dog, and a very gentle creature.  At first, I was able to watch body language, and when Abby would be preparing to pounce on him, I would distract her.  It got so I had to keep a leash on her all the time in the house, as  she would jump on Russell's back and start biting him.  She began to show signs of leash aggression. She'd snap at me (but never did bite me) to try and get me to let her loose so she could lunge on Russell, or greet people.  I didn't want her jumping all over people, although she never did actually bite anyone.  Russell got so he hid in my bedroom all the time.  Except in the evenings, when both dogs would join me in the den, and we 3 would have a cuddle on the sofa.  It was wonderful.  Last week that stopped.  Abby was on the sofa, Russell on the floor, and she leapt off and onto him.  I had to drag her off.  After that, every night she would wait for a chance to attack Russell.  This morning, he was asleep on my bed.  Abby was on the floor in another room with me.  She left my side, ran into the bedroom, jumped on the bed and started attacking Russell, who was screaming.  That was it, I had no choice.  I was going to take her to a shelter, but the behaviorist I have been working with for months said euthanizing was best, because she wasn't about to stop.  Her vet, when I called, also agreed with that.  Last time we were at the vet's, Abby did try to bite her.  I loved that little dog.  She had some wonderful qualities and the most adorable face.  I will try to remember the good times; her sense of humour; her play; and try and not prejudice myself towards other dogs.  I have to build up Russell's confidence now.  He and I will spend the summer alone.  Maybe in the Fall, we can start thinking about another dog.  Russell is going to retire in another couple of years, and I would like another dog to take his place in therapy.  As much as I wanted that dog to be Abby, it was not in the cards. I know that having a dog comes with heartaches.  My heart is broken right now, and I thank everyone on this site for reading this and for sharing your own stories.  We SHALL get over this.  Right??????


Elizabeth 
June 13, 2014

As I sit at my desk, with tears streaming down my face, I am comforted to know I am not alone. I had my sweet rescue, Dixie, put down today. I know it was the right decision but my heart is breaking. Some friends rescued her at just 5 weeks, while out in the field for work. She was so small and so sick, the vet even thought she was a chihuahua mix - that ended up weighing 45 lbs. She is now a little over a year. Around 3-4 months old she started showing signs of fear aggression towards strangers. I didn't think much of it since she was so young. However, as time went by, I noticed the aggression becoming worse. I have a friend who is a obedience trainer. I took Dixie through her class and she did really well. However, even during some of the classes, it was obvious I could never let her off leash. She would bark aggressively at other dogs and their owners. Later I found out she had severe hip dysplasia and bad knees. I spoke with my veterinarian and dog trainer about the possibility the aggression was due to pain. But even with meds, the aggression continued. So then I questioned, do I spend thousands on surgery in hopes it makes her temperament "manageable"? My biggest concern was for my 3 year old son. Dixie did great with him, but I could NOT risk another child coming over and the chance someone could be seriously injured. Children leave doors open all the time and if she ever was loose, the uncertainty of her biting was just too great. Thank you ALL for sharing your stories. And thank you Phyllis for writing something so close to our hearts.


Heather
June 10, 2014

Thank you all for sharing. I'm starting to feel like we need to put our dog to sleep. He is a 3 year old Doberman who is a shelter rescue. His body has lots of scars and he cowers when corrected about the smallest thing, it seems he has been badly abused. He is loving and friendly. He wants to eat our cats. He bIt a puppy at dog day are and got kicked out. The vet and two trainers say that he is unsafe and unpredictable. We love him, but we love our children more. I'm told he needs a adult only home with no animals and lots of training. They wanted me to bring him back to the shelter but we said no, wanting to give him a chance. He is crated And we have muzzle. A friend came over yesterday who had never met him and decided to unexpectNtly wipe an eye booger off his eye while he was eating. He bit her hand and let go, then grabed her other arm. No skin was broken, but my husband wrestled him down and he continued to growl at her. He is so sweet and loving, it breaks my heart what  someone did to him. I wanted to believe that we can rehabilitate him, but the trainer is not sure that she even wants to work with him.So here I am with a loving unsafe dog. His only hope is that there is someone out there who can safely handle him... Or we need to bring him to vet to be put to sleep to protect others, ourselves and even himself. I really hate the person who did this to him!


Susan Kendzior 
June 10, 2014

I am crying as I read this - especially the part about "walking on eggshells and relief"...  I euthanized my 4 year old Labradoodle on Friday.  He suffered seizures since he was a puppy and always had aggression.  His brain was not wired right.  Behavior was escalating.  After many bites (including myself) that I kept making excuses for, I knew I couldn't let him hurt my beautiful 8 month old grandson.  This article has touched my soul.  I did everything I could do, trainers, neurologists, etc. but it was getting worse. When the vet began to put him down, he became aggressive and in a frenzy tried to bite everyone in the room.  Luckily, I had muzzled him for this last trip.  The vet said she had never seen anything like it.  It was horrible but perhaps it showed in some small way how his brain was suffering.  He was a bad boy but he was my bad boy and I loved him.  Thank you for writing this and giving me some sense of peace about what I did.


Annie 
June 9, 2014

In under ten hours I will have to stand by and watch my beautiful American bulldog cross foster be put to sleep after he attacked our existing dog then turned on us as we tried to pull him off. We've been excusing his behaviour because he really is the soppiest creature but after we ended up in a&e the charity we foster through made the decision for us. If he was mine I might have waited a while longer but he's resource aggressive and flies at our other dog without warning (maybe once every 3 months so you get lulled into thinking he's safe) and actually if I imagine that being a toddler who he perceived to be too near his toy then I wine at the mental image I create. I just feel so sorry for him. He spent 18 months in emergency kennels and has made our lives so much brighter in the past 9 months. But he attacks a dog he can usual be found curled up with, and when she's not even anywhere near his possession. I know in my head it's not right to ignore it and I know the charity have given me no choice anyway, but this dog has climbed so far into my soul I feel I will never get over this pain. Thanks everybody for posting. I wasn't going to add my experience here but are scrolling through looking for situations similar to mine I figured it might just help someone else who's wondering if they're thinking on the right lines. My foster's only 3 and most of that was spent in kennels but I have to hold on to the many wonderful walks and cuddles we've shared in the past nine months and pray I can one day forgive myself.


Salma 
June 8, 2014

We have to put our dog down too. It is very difficult but it has to be done. Biting and attacking is unacceptable. We did ask the vet about different medicines and drugs but the dog wont be the dog anymore it will be drugged and not acting right. It wouldn't be the same. I definitely miss Dunkin.


Darlene 
June 5, 2014

I'm so relieved that there are other people who have gone through the same thing as myself. This article said word for word everything I've been feeling and that happened. I had a jack russell terrier that I had to put down a few days ago because of aggression. In a way I always thought it was normal due to his breed. Up until a year ago when he bit my mom and sent her to the clinic. From then on he got worse. And what really sent him off the track was when my brother brought home another dog. And what made me finally make my decision was two weeks ago when he attacked my little brothers foot and I had to take my little brother to the hospital. My heart is still broken from the decision I had to make but I don't think I'll ever recover or forget the awful scream my little brother made when he got attacked. I felt so guilty for putting my dog down because the day of I walked him down to the vet and the poor little guy thought he was going for a walk and I feel like I will never forgive myself for that I feel like I betrayed him and I can't get his face out of my head when I passed him off the the vet. maybe he wasn't wired correctly but I know he truly loved our family and maybe I can come to the acceptance that I did make the right choice that he doesn't have to feel that need to attack anymore and do hope from the bottom of my heart as much as it hurts me that he is at peace now.


John 
June 2, 2014

I don't care if it's medical or whatever else it could be, an aggressive dog needs to be put down. There's no guarantee that that aggression won't come back. I say that it's better to be safe than sorry. A dog is an animal and to me, people are more important than any animal. I know we have people that think otherwise. These people really need to do some inner searching and examine themselves.


Ev 
June 2, 2014

This article brought me some peace. We recently had to say goodbye to our 18 month old lab mix. He had some anxieties that were starting to get out of hand. He had his first bite and 9 months old. We thought it was just a stress reaction at that time due to a lot of new faces at once during a party. Now looking back it was just a glimpse of what was to come. He bit again at 10 months old, this was again a new face to him. Outgoing serious but a tie non the less. A more serious bite came at 11 months old, this one requiring stitches, but this was to someone the dog had seen many times prior. Why did we keep the dog at this point? I had gotten him at 11 weeks old. He was a rescue. He was wonderful with my kids. He was my daughters new best friend. They played, snuggled and sat together daily. We looked into a trainer and a behaviorist. His diagnoses was fear aggression and reactivity. We learned to keep him away from new faces for their safety. To our family he was loyal. At 18 months of age he did something I never could of imagined. He attacked my 9 year old daughter, for no reason. She called his name, he wagged his tail at her like he always does. She went to pet him and he lunged at her. 8 stitches later and scarred for life, physically and emotionally, we knew what needed to be done. I hate myself for keeping him so long, even though he appeared not to be a threat to our family. We loved him, treated him well. It breaks my heart that her best friend betrayed her. I can't help missing the dog. But looking at my child everyday, i know I did the right thing. He was weak nerved and getting worse every day. He was physically a beautiful healthy dog but his mind was not right. I now know the signs of a dog with an unstable mind. I hope one day we can get past this. My children want another dog, thank god she doesn't fear dogs because of this. I know there is a dog out there that will be loyal . I learned from this tragedy and thank god everyday that he didn't maul her to death.


Tabitha 
May 31, 2014

On May 14th we made the sad decision to put my Big Boi to sleep. He was a beautiful American Bulldog that I loved deeply.  Three weeks ago I came home to find my husband tying him to the front rails and when I tried to get close to him he did not recognize me and growled. As the light shone on his face I saw the blood on his face and mouth. My husband had told me he heard a cat in distress and ran into the kennel. He was attacking something but we did not find the cat that night. By morning I realized who was missing and it was my beloved cat Kelli. We did not find his body until days later. My mind understands the choice we had to make but my heart is having a hard time processing it all. The pain and loss has been so great that at times I can hardly breathe. Biggie, as we called him, had already been declared a dangerous dog by  the city we reside in for an attack on a neighbor's dog.  Then shortly after that  he attacked a family dog that I was dog sitting and he almost lost an eye. I was badly hurt when I intervened because I realized he was going to kill our collie Ernie. The next attack was on out basset hound Annie. He had her by the neck and luckily my husband saved her.  As I write this I realize how crazy this all sounds that we tried to save him and what our family has been through for the last 2.5 years.  Maybe I needed to see our story in writing.  I guess what I am dealing with is the other part of him I will truly miss. Most of the time he was a loving, smart, fun dog but when he attacked it was to kill and he finally did just that.  I just feel so guilty that we actually had to finally make the decision to end his life. I was under the false notion that we had it all under control but now I realize we never did and never would.  We thought of re-homing him but felt that was irresponsible and just passing the buck.  No everyday person or family could ever handle such a dog.  I would never expect them to.  We spent thousands of dollars trying to save him.  We got advice from both of our vets that this was the right thing to do.  I just feel so heartbroken and believe it or not I miss him horribly.  I have had pets 33 years out of 38 years of my life and never have I dealt with anything so traumatic involving a pet. It all feels surreal. I look at the empty kennel, stop myself from going out to feed him, go walk him, and bring him in to nap with me.  I feel like I am in a fog I can't escape.  Thank goodness for this article and the following comments or I would truly feel alone.  I just hope this pain gets easier to deal with over time. Right now it consumes me.  If anyone could reach out to me I would greatly appreciate it.


Jason 
May 30, 2014

Thank you so much for writing this. After two years of exhausting all options, I had to have my fear aggressive dog euthanized today. No one has ever been able to find the source of his issues but he was a rescue and unfortunately the attacks (bites) got worse each time. Luckily no one has been seriously hurt but I've lost sleep thinking about the possibility of him biting a child. I am heartbroken because even with the issues I loved my dog like so many of you. I take comfort in being able to relate to this story and so many of the commenters. Thank you.


Joe 
May 28, 2014

Thank you for you article and all the comments below for helping me make the decision I did not want to make.  Today we euthanized Myley, our 6 yr. old Jack Russell. As a pup she was fine, but over the years became more and more aggressive. She was part of the 99% and 1% mentioned in other articles on this post.  99% of the time she was a loving dog when around family, but that other 1% of the time around family, some other people and some other dogs a switch would get turned on.  For no reason she would turn into a beast. When we first recognized the aggressiveness of our Myley, my wife and I also tried for over a year training and multiple medications for Myley, but to no avail.  As mentioned by others she was one that had a problem in her mind that could not be fixed. Monday I was soul searching as what to do, when I came upon Phyllis's article and the many comments.  Reading them brought me to the final decision that euthanizing my dog was the best thing to do for her and the safety of others.  She did not want to live this way, constantly in fear of certain family situations, other people or other dogs who walked by her. Nor would she have wanted to hurt anyone else again.  When that switch went off in her there was no controlling her.  It was time. We miss her greatly. It is a very difficult decision, but it is our responsibility as a pet owner to make the decision. Over the years of owning dogs I have found two poem that bring me solace in times like this.  The first one to read is "A Dog's Prayer".  Then read "Rainbow Bridge".  These poems are easily found on the internet.  I hope they bring to anyone who reads them the solace they bring to me in times like this.


Rebecca 
May 22, 2014

Thank you so much for initiating this topic.  I had to call Animal Control to pick up my 14 year old Jack Russell terrier mix.  She has bitten 3 people, including myself.  After about a week, I realized after reading this article that we have done all that we could to prevent bites.  It seemed as time went on, her mission was to KILL our other female dog.  At first they got along great and even played together.  We tried to treat/feed each one the same so there would be no jealously between the dogs.  The last 2 years have been very challenging and stressful for everyone when the first dog fight happened.  We separated them since.  Accidents happen and last Saturday, they came in contact with each other and we tried to pull them apart.  In the process, Jill ripped a gash in our other dog's neck, she bit my significant other on the nose, me on my finger and in the process, we all fell in the kitchen floor and my knees are badly bruised.  We ended up in the Emergency room thinking my significant other broke his nose because there was so much blood.  This was the last straw for us because we felt like prisoners in our own home, constantly checking to make sure Jill was in her kennel or behind a locked door.  She learned how to open doors, just to get out to try and get to the other dog.  Anyway,  this articles/comments gave me the courage to say enough is enough.  I've done all I can, I love my dog but nothing is ever going to get better and I don't want anyone else to get hurt.  Thank you.


Phyllis DeGioia 
May 20, 2014

This article reflects perfectly my thoughts wondering why so many people work hard to save aggressive dogs from being euthanized when so many nice dogs are euthanized in shelters every day due to lack of space. I understand "it's the deed, not the breed" - and agree with that - but when a dog has caused significant physical harm, I don't see being stuck in a shelter for the rest of his life as a kindness to the dog or safe for his caretakers.
http://dogtime.com/advocacy-column-we-cant-save-them-all-and-we-shouldnt.html


Eve 
May 14, 2014

The fact that this article is still getting a solid stream of comments two years later speaks as to how many people it has touched, and I commend the author on writing such a hard article dealing with such difficult subject matter. I have a beautiful German Shepherd I rescued when he was nearly 2 years old from an abusive situation. The mother adored the dog, the hubby and son were bullies. They severely understated his issues.  Then I find out they had purchased him from a known 'puppy mill' area.  And taken him to a low cost neuter clinic where he nearly died during the neuter (spiked a high fever, touch and go) to try to help his aggression issues. Utoh. But I felt like I was too far in to back out. Shortly after I got him, I took him to a rabies clinic/nail trimming event.  As the tech clipped, he got more and more tense, then growled, then bared teeth. At that point, we agreed we needed a muzzle.  Muzzled, proceeded, and he went nuts. If he could have gotten out of that muzzle, he would have taken us all out.  We agreed to stop the nail clipping for his good. It was the first time in my life I've ever been scared of an animal I owned.  I am an experienced animal handler and rescue worker.  It gave me pause. As time went by, we came to realize he is both very fear aggressive but also a bully. Oddly, he seems to love all children, and is very gentle with our neighbors disabled boy. I was wary of letting him play fetch with the boy, but the father insisted, and I've never seen him sweeter.  Dog always looks for boy on walks too.  He is extremely protective of me, particularly if he thinks my partner is drinking or in a bad mood.  He lays right in front of me and guards me.  He loves beer, lapping up any that gets accidentally spilled, and begs for it. Makes me wonder what his previous life was like, and that relationship.  Beer is the -only- thing he begs for. He has snapped at and bitten my partner, always at night, always after he'd been drinking.  Odd triggers. If he is startled.  If partner moves a foot wrong.  (was he kicked before?) Once when partner just reached to pet him.  Not bites to do serious damage, more quick warning bites.  None in the last year.  He chases the cats. Won't let them down the stairs. They live in fear.  But if I'm already in bed snuggling with a kitty, he'll jump on the bed, lick them, and lay down next to them.  He's fine if they don't move.  When they do, it's bark bark chase again.  I feel SO bad I brought this dog in to my (2) cats home, and they are now terrorized and have lost their freedom to roam the house. When he has bitten my partner, he gets this flat, 'dead' look in his eyes. He stays like that until you call him, snap him out of it. Then he knows he's done wrong and looks for forgiveness.  The one moment of relief came when my stepdad accidentally let him out, and a neighbor was walking up the street.  Dog ran up to him barking, hackles up. I call out "He's fine, he wont hurt you, just stand still till I get his leash on" (he is more aggressive with moving things, walking/bikes/motorcycles) and, like the cats, not when standing still.  Neighbor -kicked at the dog- repeatedly.   Here is me thinking "Oh $*(#)*#)(!! this is bad" But even provoked, dog did not bite (thank God) So now, three years later, I am facing the same dilemma you all are. I can't rehome him.  I feel so guilty for my poor kitties.  Up until last week, we had an older husky that was his buddy.  He never displayed any aggression at all toward the husky. He hasn't bitten in a year. But I still know that 'walking on eggshells' feeling all too well.  I'm afraid to take him to the vet. I know he'll have to be muzzled, and him in a muzzle scares me.  I don't know what I'll do if he ever gets sick.   So now I'm starting the last journey.   One more behaviorist specializing in aggression.  The nearest vet behaviorist is over 2 hours away or I'd try that.  Going to see if I can get my vet to make a house call, start him on some meds.  Honestly? I'm expecting to spend hundreds of dollars for fixes that won't work. But I cant justify euthanasia until I've exhausted my options.  I'd send him to 'Doggy Boot Camp", but I'm not sure what techniques they'd use when I'm not there to supervise and protect my guy, and he has already been through so much.  Thanks for letting me share my story. If anyone has any thoughts or insights or suggestions, I'd love to hear them....Thanks for listening!


Paula 
May 9, 2014

To Jon: I did read your story before posting mine, and related to the relationship you had with George, as it mirrored mine with Max. Also, what you said a few days ago; because George was never aggressive with you that is what eats you up inside, and that is the difficulty I am having too as Max never was aggressive with me.  Just as I feel I'm accepting my decision as time goes on, something sets me back, and two nights ago I was again tearful and discussed my feelings with my husband.  My husband said he still thinks of Max, how the house is quiet.  There are so many reminders. Max's issues started from his treatment and his early environment, I am sure.  As Carrie said about her dog Ollie, she felt her dog was separated too early from his litter mates, and I think that happened with Max.  My husband and I both stand by our decision to put Max to sleep, to prevent the unthinkable, but I think of the "if only's, trying to forgive myself.  Thinking of that day leaves a pit in my stomach, he was so boisterous the morning I took him, his head out the window of the car, he trusted me and I signed what I told the vet was his "death warrant."  My emotions are so conflicted.  I even feel guilty at feeling this way, because it was for the safety of others, particularly my youngest son, as I think Max saw him as the weakest or the lowest ranking, and I wonder why I even second-guess what I did because then it feels to me I am putting Max above my family. Thank you for posting your story about George, and your replies.  I have read everyone's story on this site, and has helped me tremendously.  It wasn't Max's fault either, it was a case of backyard puppy breeding, mixed breeding.


Patti 
May 8, 2014

I can't really say that I find comfort in all of these posts, but I do find understanding for my situation and that gives me some sort of courage. I have had dogs all my life, 5 at a time once. One got aggressive last year (Putnam), it turned out he hurt his back he is fine now.  I rescued a sweet, sweet 10 month old in Nov. - Chance. He was removed from the prior owner and scared of everything. Chance attacked my 13 year old 5 weeks ago, 2 weeks later he attacked him again and I had to put my old boy down.  I felt that I didn't have the proper training to deal with such a dog so I went to my vet who is a behaviorist and we met with the trainer. I said I would give it a month. It has been going so well. All three dogs have been taking walks together, playing together, sleeping together.  Last night walking out the door for our walk, my mom's dogs were in her window barking up a storm. All three lunged and my sweet little Chance took on Putnam a much bigger dog. It was horrible,I couldn't get Chance to let go of Putnam's ear which is how he injured my old guy so much I lost him.  I was by myself way out in the country. I tried calmness at first and then I just started screaming for help. Half the time I was under them.  I too am pretty scrapped up.  I punched my sweet little baby so hard my hand is bruised.  I tried biting his ear. It lasted for what seemed like 10/15 minutes and then trying to keep them apart by myself to get one in the house and the other away. Putnam's ear is ok just chewed up and Chance is beaten up pretty bad but all superficial. I have some bites and scraps. Mom took Putnam to the vet to make sure and when she came home my sweet Chance lunged at the door and started attacking the other dog in the house. She was able to get it broken up but Chance was about to hurt her as well. I know it is time to make the right decision.  I knew 3 weeks ago, but I wanted to give him a chance.  He is so loving and gentle with me but he is as many of you have said...just not right. He has several physical deformities like knee caps and hips not formed right. Perhaps the same is true for his mind. I don't know how to do this, but for the safety of my parents who live next to me and help me out when I am gone and for the safety of my other dogs, my cats. I will spend tonight with my sweet Chancey and tomorrow I will let him go. Oh dear Lord, will this kind of pain ever, ever go away?


NM 
May 8, 2014

Thank you for this article. It makes me sad that so many people struggle with this but helps me since I know I'm not alone so thank you for sharing your stories. I've been struggling over what is the right thing to do and feeling like I've failed my dog. My dog had some mild fear based and resource guarding aggression towards other dogs but it was easy to control with behavior modification and situational awareness (my behaviorist referred to it as "reservation syndrome", he was born a feral dog). At 5 he was diagnosed with Addison's disease and the hormone therapy required to keep him alive has made the aggression much worse.  I've worked with animal behaviorists and my vet, he's on a max dose of Prozac but he continues to degrade.  Three years later he's not only aggressive towards other dogs (including his big sister doggie) but also towards me.  I've never in my life been afraid of my own dog but I am now.  90% of the time he's wonderful and sweet and loving but when he "loses it" he goes blank and just goes into attack mode. He hasn't actually hurt me or another person, but with the degradation of his behavior I feel like it's just a matter of time. The thought of him getting out of the yard keeps me up at night.  I feel like this poor little guy has the cards stacked against him and I'm out of tools.


Dr. Tony Johnson 
May 7, 2014

I will briefly touch on the castration idea: Neutering may help diminish some of the behavior. Doubtless, some of it is a learned thing by now, but hormones still may be driving some of it.  Neutering in general helps reduce fighting and roaming behavior and may help with some aggression issues. It is hot button issue, and many folks, some of whom I really respect, take a different view.


Charlotte Smith 
May 6, 2014

Hi, I've been reading this article and the looking through the comments for the last two days. Unfortunately we too are in a position where we looking at having our gorgeous, very loved 8 year old rescue collie x spaniel put to sleep. Shadow came from a rescue centre, it was believed that he has been abused as a pup. Friends of my partners rehomed him at about 8 months of age. He was extremely shy and although he came for the occasional fuss, spent most of his time wandering around the land (they lived at a livery yard at the time). If he was scared he'd hide in
 a bush or hedge (hence where the name shadow came from). A few years later my partners friends had to relocate to the town and because shadow was so anxious and nervous they didn't think it would be a good place for him. My partner was the only other person they knew that shadow would come to so they asked if he would have shadow. My partner jumped at the chance and a few more years later I met shadow when he came with my partner to live with me. Me and my partner have had shadow for over three years now and we adore him! He has dramatically improved in confidence although he can still be timid, he loves a cuddle and fuss, loves the cats, ferret and other dogs, he doesn't run away on walks anymore, he travels in the car with no issues, he has visited other peoples homes. 99% of the time he's a perfect dog. The 1% of the time though is not nice at all. He still fear bites. Up until this point shadow has biten on two occasions that have been relatively minor (or as we see it being used to troubled dogs) once was when he was told off for marking my mums sofa, he felt cornered and bit my partners hand. Second time was putting him in the car after this incident. He's since repeated these situations with no problems. He's gone to bite a few times too but we've moved quick enough. He's caught a few times but not broken the skin and it's only ever been me and my partner. He hides away if people come round which is fine. Recently he's been coming out and meeting people, he's a bit jumpy but fine. He likes females but is wary of males. I believe that a male was his abuser as a pup but obviously can not be sure. He still gets very anxious in some situations but they differ every time so there's no exact trigger other than he feels fearful. It literally is like a switch that goes off and makes him feel like his only way out is to bite. It makes disciplining him when he does do something wrong (which is infrequent as he's a well behaved dog) very unnerving as you try not to escalate it to him becoming scared. We understand that he has been treated badly at some point and genuinely felt the need to react like this but we have never been unkind to him or hurt him. We have basically handled him by avoiding situations that might make him fearful and bite and over the years he's improved so much it's rare. He may go to bite 3/4 times a year. However this last time was much worse than the previous incidents. On Monday morning at 1:30am (we both work evenings) my partner was putting our dogs in their 'night time' places. We have four dogs so everybody has their own space in different areas of the house. It works well and it's 'our routine'. Shadow was lounging on the sofa in the living room, he refused to move to go to his room as he wanted to sit next to our female german shepherd, who's last up and sleeps on the landing. He was told to move several times and wouldn't budge. My partner got hold of his collar to move him off, as he did shadow latched onto his right hand. He bit three times in seconds
with no warning. He then bit my partners finger on his left hand and then his thigh before he disappeared. I heard lots of noise from shadow and my partner muttering, pleading with him to let go. Next thing I know my partner is passing out in the bathroom with a gaping wounds on his hands and puncture marks on his thigh (good job I'm ok with blood I guess!). We spent the whole early morning in a&e. My partner is now off work for a week on antibiotics and tramadol. His hand is very swollen and infected with a total of 7 bite wounds, one going through his hand. He has an infected puncture wound on his thigh too. The one on his left finger has actually taken a callus off from using his knives at work, it's been bugging him for months! Yay a positive!? It's worrying as my partners a chef and it doesn't look as though these wounds are going to heal any time soon. Shadow has really caused damage this time. It has really scared us both. I'm so angry about the whole situation, I just wish it hadn't of happened. We really don't know what's best. We keep thinking of rehoming him but just don't think it's the right thing to do because he'll be so anxious and scared by people and places he doesn't know that he's more likely to fear bite.  It's taken years for him to trust us and love us. Even after he'd bitten my partner on Monday morning he didn't want me to call an ambulance incase they brought the police to take him away. We've tried so hard to train him and help him overcome his fears and he's done so well. Friends and family have said that he can't be trusted to not do it again and as we're planning a family this year isn't safe to have around. And we understand. But the thought of having him put to sleep is devastating, he's 8 and healthy and generally a happy, loving dog. We wonder if having him castrated would make a difference? He was about 5 when my partner and he came to live with me. He does mark furniture but after asking the vets they said that having him castrated would be unlikely to change this as behaviour will be learnt by now. He's a placid dog anyway. Should this be done first or are we just prolonging the matter? He doesn't go to or bite regularly so we could have him done and it make no difference and we still end up with another awful situation like this. I spoke to the vets earlier and explained the situation. They noted his bite reaction had escalated and offered us a slot to have him put to sleep this evening. I said id phone back but haven't. We think we know what the right thing to do is but are so confused at the same time. It's a very sad time for us, we just feel helpless. Like I said earlier I just wish it hadn't have happened. I hope theres something further we can do, it feels like we're giving up on him. Thank you for reading, I'm so sorry about the length of my comment! If any one has any advice please get in touch. My thoughts go out to all those who have faced or are facing a similar situation. Charlotte


jon 
May 5, 2014

To Judy: I do not think you are being unrealistic. I think that if you can keep your dog separated from dangerous situations and still have a happy pet/owner relationship then go for it. A million times yes! That is what this is all about. If I didn't have a 7-year-old who has friends coming over daily I would still have my dog by my side. The problem for me was I could not remove him from the dangerous situations. I could not keep him in a cage and only take him out when I was home, and then keep him on a leash all the time, worrying about a kid knocking, calling from the yard or just coming in the house unannounced. We had so many close calls. Too many...
My dog never once showed aggression toward me. And that is what just eats me up inside. Every day I think about him. He never once doubted me, but I was forced to doubt him because of his behavior toward other people. And I really hope that if there are any doubters out there about what people like me go through that they will at least try  to put themselves in that situation. What if you had a child, a family member, a neighbor, that your dog constantly went after. I tried everything I could and the end result was I could not do anything.


RH 
May 5, 2014

Similar to so many others that have commented, I am so grateful to have found this article and all the comments.  It helps so much to know we aren't alone.  Until just a few days ago, I would not have classified our 11-year-old lab-chow mix as "aggressive".  She was admittedly not the most social or friendly dog with people she didn't know, and would occasionally growl a little when approached by someone that made her uncomfortable, but had never come close to actually biting someone, and was always very gentle with my husband and I.  That all changed last week when we were on vacation.  Our 16-year-old neighbor was pet-sitting, and could not get our 2 dogs to come outside one night.  After several attempts, her Mom came over to help.  They were apparently going to try and move the food dish outside to prompt her to come out.  Instead, when she reached for the food dish a foot away, our dog snapped and bit her hand hard enough to break the skin and her whole arm to swelled up and sent her to the doctor.  Surprisingly, they didn't tell us about it right away.  They are very nice and probably didn't want to make a big deal of it, but when we got home, they finally came over and told us about the incident, and that their daughter couldn't pet-sit anymore.  Apparently she'd snapped at her once before but not actually bitten.  We were stunned.  We felt terrible for our neighbor, of course, and offered to pay any medical expenses they incurred, but now were struggling with what to do about our beloved dog - our first "kid".  This was the first real bite that we know of, but is this the beginning of an unexpected age progression?   I am 7-months pregnant with our first child and was suddenly very worried for her safety.  Kids can be very unpredictable.  The decision was quick and clear to us - we needed to put her down.  She'd already lived a long, happy 11-year life, and was starting to have a lot of health problems, so that helped us justify our decision, that somehow we were also putting her out of her own misery while preventing any future bites.  That's where the real fun began.  The next morning we called the vet, who told us we had to wait 10 days from the date of the bite - it had only been 7 days at that time.  So they told us we should take her to Animal Control.  So that afternoon I did the very unpleasant task of loading her in the car and taking her to Animal Control to see what we needed to do.  Thankfully, they were extremely nice and caring with me (I was crying at the time), but also told us they couldn't do anything for 10-days.  So we called our vet back again and made an appointment for 3 days later after the 10-days had passed.  The next few days were miserable.  We tried to make her last few days wonderful - lots of petting and attention, extra treats, and bacon-grease-drenched dog food for dinner.  We kept asking ourselves if we were doing the right thing, but kept coming back to the same conclusion.  So we once again did the horrible task of loading her up on the morning of her vet / euthanization appointment.  It was so sad because she was so excited to go on a car ride, and unlike her normally lethargic, arthritic self, was bouncing around like a puppy that morning.  We were both in tears as we drove to the vet.  Finally we get there and get into the nice, quiet room, when the nurse informs us that they can't do anything without paperwork from local authorities showing we reported the dog bite.  What???  Nobody ever mentioned anything about paperwork until now.  We didn't even know there was a formal process for this, especially since our neighbor had not filed any sort of complaint.  After over an hour of back and forth, the vet finally told us they'd take care of it today and file the paperwork retroactively.  All this time, our poor dog was becoming increasingly stressed.  If we'd done it right away, she was relatively calm, but instead, it took 1:15 of agonizing wait to finally finish what we came for.  I won't go into any more details, but it's a memory that will haunt me for a long time.  We both wanted to be there for her until the end. I know it will take time to heal, and we'll pour our focus into our second dog, but finding this article and all the stories helped me see that we're not alone.  We have not / will not be telling anyone outside of a select couple people about the incident that led to her end because we want them to remember her the way she was, a great dog for 11 great years, and not let a single incident mar her memory.  Thank you, thank you everyone for sharing.  I know deep down we did the right thing.


Carrie 
May 5, 2014

I am really glad I found this article, but I must admit I am still struggling with what to do with my own dog. We brought Ollie home 5 years ago when he was 6 weeks old. I have come to believe that some of Ollie's issues may be partially because he was separated from his litter mates to early.  Ollie has always been "mouthy", he even still sucks on his bed or blankets like he is trying to nurse.  We took him to puppy class and dog parks to socialize and he did learn bite inhibition but he always nips. He has never broken the skin but he will snap and growl if startled. We do walk on eggshells and are even nervous to pet him ourselves sometimes because we don't want to push him over the edge and have him actually bite someone. I hired a dog trainer and we went to see a behaviorist.  Ollie was diagnosed with separation anxiety especially when I am not around and he is on anxiety medication. The medication seemed to help for awhile, but it seems like it isn't working as well now. He is so afraid of the vet that the only way we will be able to do an exam is to give him a Valium before we get to the vet and heavy duty sedation as soon as we arrive at the office. The last time we tried sedation at the vet was 20 minutes into the appointment and he was so worked up that he fought the sedatives and would not go down at the office, he crashed for 8 hours when we got home and he was able to relax again and he was so out of it that I really thought he might die.  We got a new puppy last year who is 70 lbs smaller than Ollie and he plays so well with her, but I do fear that he may one day turn on her or more importantly my husband or daughter.  We are afraid to go on vacation because I don't know how he would handle being boarded.  He was boarded a few times when he was younger but I don't think he would handle it well now. We do have a plan to take him to the vet and once he is sedated we will do a full workup and x-rays to see if there is some underlying medical condition, as of the last blood work done about a year ago nothing was found. It's just so hard because looking at the situation logically I know that this is not a healthy environment for any of us, but Ollie is my boy and looking into those eyes knowing that one day soon I may have to not just let him go but push him away is unbearably hard to fathom. If I knew it was a medical problem and that he was in physical pain it would be a little easier to accept, but having dealt with mental problems with my mother I feel like giving up on my boy because he has a mental problem is wrong. Again thanks for sharing your story along with all the people who have left comments. It's nice to know I am not alone in this.


Sarah Bendt 
May 4, 2014

So glad I found this page. Rescued a pit and from day one knew he just wasn't right. I have never seen a dog with fear issues this bad. He never bit us for almost a year and something just snapped and he began attacking us. The final straw was in January of this year when he chased me and knocked me down going for my head. Took a few big chunks of my scalp out. I managed to climb under a dog bed to protect my head. Before I could get most of my body under it he got my arm and ended up in the hospital. It has healed up but looks like a shark attack. Have a big indent in my arm. We tried training and total blood work but finally had to be put down. I was rushed to the hospital and my husband said he never snapped out of it and had to tranquilize him in order to get him out of the house. I still cry daily over the decision we had to make of putting him down. 99% of the time he was a great dog but his fear and anxiety got the best of him. I am so happy to find this page and know their are others out there that have had to deal with the same kind of heart wrenching decision. I know this will haunt me the rest of my life. I think about him daily and makes my heart  just ache.


Samantha Bell 
May 4, 2014

I'm erasing this article at a very sad time. My husband and I had to euthanise a Dogue De Bordeaux in our foster care yesterday. His name was Dougal and he's been in our care with a view to finding him a forever home. As far as we knew, he came from a loving home with no issues; he was 6, an elderly gentlemen so to speak. Dougal  was so loving and affectionate 99% of the time, unfortunately there was a 1% unpredictable aggressive streak that meant he lashed out. After he bit my stepdaughter without being provoked e knew he could never be rehomed. I'm writing this from my bed where I've spent the last 24 hours crying and sleeping; the house is so quiet without him. This article has helped me. I know the right decision was made as Dougal's wiring wasn't right, bless him. I'll still miss him terribly though.


April Bunker 
April 29, 2014

Thank you for this article. We are currently in this same position with our 9 year old 100 lb chocolate lab. Captain has been our works for the past 9 years. He truly has been my husbands best friend & has seen him thru the most difficult times including my husbands cancer & the loss of our other dog due to cancer. He has been a wonderful, sweet, loving, loyal friend to us. He goes to work with my husband every day & is more then a dog, he is family.  As others have said, 99% of the time he is great, however there is that 1% that has always been in the back of our minds & worried us. When my husband had cancer several years ago captain lashed out at a woman at work. He caught her lip & she needed stitches. We all made excuses for him because my husband was sick & he felt he needed to protect him. We sent him to doggy boot camp for training & did not see any further signs of aggression until we moved into a condo about a year later. He would randomly growl at others in the elevator when approached but never lashed out. There have been a few other minor incidents where he was caught of guard & growled. Because of his size when he would turn & growl he has injured myself & a friends child. both very minor scratches so again we made excuses for him. While I was pregnant he started showing aggression towards other dogs but was not usually the initiator. So again we hired a trainer, worked with him & the behavior improved. We knew having a child around him we would have to watch him very closely because of his size. We worried he may be over protective of our baby but We never thought we would have to protect our baby from him. Until this past weekend when we were all lying in bed together & I moved my 9 week old son slightly & he immediately snapped. He gave us no warning that he was uncomfortable in any way. We got so lucky that no one was hurt but it was incredibly scary. He did not lunge & bite & has never bit anyone but it was a very aggressive & viscous bark. We never imagined he could do something like that to our son, especially with is right there. For the 9 weeks prior he has been so sweet, kissing him on the head & feet, cuddling with us as a family, etc.  We knew his history but he's so sweet most of the time & we got comfortable. Although we still don't think he would intentionally hurt anyone we just can't take the risk. We have to think of the safety of our son & everyone else who may come in contact with him. It's not just us anymore & it's unrealistic to hope we can keep them apart. This isn't a continuous behavior that we feel can be corrected with more training bc it's so inconsistent we have no idea what triggers him. We have exhausted all of our options & have thought of nothing else since this happened. We are sick over it but we have come to the decision to euthanize him tomorrow. We are devastated & heart broken to lose such a huge part of our family but we feel it is the best decision for him as well as us. We are blaming ourselves & feeling guilty but in our hearts we know this is what's best. We feel we have gotten lucky too many times & would never forgive ourselves if he ended up really hurting someone. We know that we cannot keep him because of our son & he would not be happy with anyone else. If there was any other solution we would do it. We would do anything for Captain. We chose him, he chose us. We have had 9 amazing years with him & we need to be there at the end.


Andy 
April 27, 2014

This article describes almost exactly my experience and feelings after my 5 year old labrador bit me when I was showering him after a muddy walk (a regular ritual). I have lost all interest now. He has bitten 4 people before but that was to protect the house. Enough is enough so I must put him down. He barks like crazy when people go past the house and always has done. However he was for three years left on a chain for up to 3 days at a time in a hot climate. I have therefore sympathy for him. He is a beautiful dog and will take food from hand so very gently. Torn emotions but safety is priority.


Judy 
April 26, 2014

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kind and thoughtful responses. My husband and I a struggling deeply. The only way for me to stop the physical illness this crisis has triggered in me was to stop the belief that I had to euthanize Yokie. We have talked for hours about our "options" can we "safely" keep him by cabbing him while our grandchildren are visiting? Will he progress with this behavior? If so, then we would know without doubt what we have to do. That being said - if there is another incident it will be to either my husband or myself (b/c we will be the only people he would be allowed to be around freely) it's a risk we are willing to take. Am I being realistic? Am I being to sentimental and cannot cope with the only other option? I am so lost and praying for right answers. I will be following up with the vet on Monday.


Jon 
April 25, 2014

To Paula: I'm so sorry. I too had a dog that was my protector. You are not the only one... scroll down a ways to see my story. This is an awful, awful decision that a lot of people face, and this forum has helped me see that. If I hadn't found this post that we all have somehow come to, I would not have been able to at least partially come to terms with what I had to do.


Phyllis DeGioia 
April 25, 2014

I was interviewing a veterinary behaviorist for something unrelated and mentioned to her what had happened with Dodger. What she said resonates for me and consoles me deeply: "If you've had several dogs before and this is the only dog that you have trouble with, it's not you, it's the dog." I had a slightly fear aggressive dog for 15 years and had nowhere near the same kind of trouble handling her as I did with Dodger. Something for us all to keep in mind.


Marcia Gilman 
April 25, 2014

Sometimes the only option for an aggressive dog is euthanasia.  A rescue group that will take a dog that has bitten several times is not doing the best thing for the dog or for a potential new owner.  If you, the loving owner, cannot keep the dog safely, and if having him as your pet and companion does not enhance your quality of life, what hope is there that someone else will have a better experience?  Instead, the dog will be stressed by being transferred from home to home, and a new owner will have to suffer the same feelings of loss that you suffer now. I recently was involved with taking in a foster dog for a breed rescue group.  The owner had died and the family wanted to return the older, healthy dog to the rescue. A family member dropped the dog off with me, and within a few minutes I had determined that the dog was dangerously aggressive and unadoptable. I talked at length to the family member by phone and found out that the dog had bitten people numerous times over the past 8 years, that the entire family was terrified of him and that they had refused to visit the owner's home unless the dog was tied up (no fenced yard at the home.) Even then , they feared that he would 'break loose.' Yet, the family member told me they did not want the dog euthanized.  The person said that the dog 'just needed training' and that I should 'get him trained' before placing him in a good home.  When I explained the danger to the new owners , their friends and visitors, and innocent passersby, the family member suggested we find him a home 'on a remote ranch'  where they 'wanted a guard dog for protection.'I have rescued and rehomed hundreds of dogs and I have learned that dogs that are being given up due to aggression almost never work out in the new home.  Even if the new owner is capable and sincere, the dog is a burden for them, not a joy.  At best, they cope and at worst, he is euthanized after injuring another person or pet. My home has been the ranch of last resort for a few dogs.  And we have coped with them successfully.  I am a professional dog trainer and veterinarian. But I would never place an aggressive dog in the hands of a member of the public.  A reputable shelter or rescue will accept the dog, evaluate him and euthanize him, not rehome him. The rescue dog I discussed above? He stayed with me for 5 days.  The behavior did not improve. I declined to rehome or keep him.  The family member declined to take him back.  Eventually the family member signed him over to the breed rescue and a representative picked him up.  We had to use a control pole and injectable sedation to leash and muzzle him.  Breed rescue made the responsible choice and took him to their veterinarian for euthanasia.


Judy 
April 24, 2014

I am sitting here amazed that this site is what I clicked on today. I am physically ill and devastated today after a visit to my vet last night (and 30 mins on the phone with a rescue league earlier yesterday) after my 3 yo pug bit my 6 yo grandson in the face with no warning or reason the night before last. This was the second time in just 3 weeks. He had bitten my precious grandson just 3 weeks prior to this when they came over for Sunday dinner, we were all in the same room, my grandson went to hug him and he instantly growled and bit in the same split second. He bit him in the upper arm through his shirt, it was a deep bruised with underlying bloody look mark of his upper and lower teeth with just a scrape look to the upper portion but the night before last he lunged at his face and instantly my grandson grabbed his face while I was panicked and asking if he bit him! He couldn't even talk and just shook his head yes - and then the blood started flowing out from underneath his hands as he caught his breath enough to start crying! I was in shock, couldn't even think about going after my dog to cab him as I was totally focused on helping my grandson, I was able to gently move his hands away to see that the bite encompassed the side of his nose down to his upper & lower lip which is where all the blood was coming from. My husband got the dog in his cab and came to help me assess the severity. His lip was punctured and swollen/ bruised but did not require stitches than God, his nose had that same scrapped appearance with bruising as well. One of the most heatbreaking things for me is that my grandson absolutely loves puppies/dogs! He had taken a walk with me & Yokie just that afternoon, played with, fed him (which he always loves doing) he just LOVES caring for pets with all his heart and soul he is SO good to him and has known him since I got him at 7 weeks old. After ice, bacitracin and lots of comforting my grandson said "Memere, Yokie doesn't have any water in his cab. Can you please put his water bowl in there for him." !!!! He was STILL wanting to be sure the dog was taken care of! The tears just won't stop for me right now, my eye's are swollen to the point that I'm struggling to see properly, I am so devastated and in shock. In hindsight I can absolutely see the 3 years of struggle and challenges with my Yokie. I didn't find out until the day I picked him up at 7 weeks old that his mother and father were actually brother & sister, I know I should have walked away that day but I had just lost my once in a lifetime pug of 11 yo 2 months before that and was grieving and yes, trying to place another dog in the hole in my heart. I had driven to CT. from MA. to get him and was already in love with this little guy. He was challenging to train but we didn't think it was out of the ball park, then he developed intense marking issue's to the point of him not being allowed at my daughters home anymore (local) and us having to tell our other daughter (out of state) she couldn't bring her dog here anymore either. Then it continued with even having our out of state grandchildren here, he would urinate on their belongings and on all four corners of the beds they slept in while visiting up through last Fall. No vists since then and we have limited his exposure to more and more situations and people and felt he just needed less "stress triggers" in his life. We had seen the vet last Fall for the marking issues and were given medication for him before visitors arrived so that his "world" wouldn't feel like it was falling apart (per the vet). Now this progression to biting has changed everything. In between the 2 biting crisis' I had taken him for walk and he lunged at another dog and snipped at a 12 yo boy who wanted to pet him, I SO didn't want to believe that this was getting alarming that I didn't tell anyone about that walk 2 weeks ago. I now know that those were alarm bells in a big way. The rescue league won't take him with a "bite history" and marking issues. The behavior consult with my vet last night was another blow. I expected they would want to medicate him daily and see how it went. The vet stated that once a dog bites especially a child and in the face all bets are off and that she is willing and supportive of putting him down. She said that if we want to "try" the medication, cab when anyone visits, and limiting his entire existence route she will help us try but said that it is exhausting and challenging and that re-homing is most likely not an option (but she will look further into it) she felt that he would ultimately have a very high return occurrence and hence be more damaged due to being bounced from home to home. She stated he is "nutty in his head" or wired wrong if you will and that we cannot "fix" that as you all have sadly been told. His poor breeding probably didn't help but this can happen even with well bred dogs. He is what she called "non-confident aggressive" meaning a confident dog will growl to warn off a perceived threat before biting whereas he growls and delivers the bite in the same split second. This is as you know extremely unsafe and scary and our eggshells are all over the place now. She said that by law she has to wait 10 days after a bite to euthanise and she offered to keep him there for that time if we couldn't cope with the this sadness. We took him home. I am grieving deeply already. I know what I have to do but I don't deal with grief well (who does though...)I lost my beloved son to bone cancer 12 years ago and barely survived. His dog was the beloved pug I had before Yokie so losing my sons dog was horrible, it was like my last living breathing piece of him. Yokie was my life raft dog and in all my lifetime of having dogs I have never had to deal with this kind of issue. It's not Yokie's fault I know that - he loves me and I love him dearly and I will give him all the love and comfort I can before next week comes. The #1 priority here was the safety of my grandchildren and others, that has been decided. The #2 priority is what is the BEST decision to make for Yokie and his quality of life. Like the vet said last night "Sometimes if you allow the golden star to come for him now it is the most loving thing you can do because you know that the chances of bouncing from home to home are high and painful." I would rather love him with all my heart and soul for the next week and allow him to go home while lying in my arms, the arms and warm lap that he feels safe with. Please pray for him as I will also be praying for all of you and your beloved pets. May God bless our wired wrong best friends. Judy 


Sam 
April 23, 2014

As my dog has yet to bite me, I fear it All the time. I feel very afraid and uncomfortable around him. My fiancé can't bear the fact of getting rid of him because he will be euthanized and I feel the same. I feel stuck  and sad for our dog because at times he can be sweet but more then half the time very aggressive. I am in a hard spot and it's tearing me apart.


Paula 
April 18, 2014

I would like to thank Phyllis DeGioia for sharing what had happened with her beloved dog, Dodger.  My beloved Malamute-Husky, Max, (and now the tears are welling up), was euthanized February 10th of this year.  That day is seared in my brain and haunts me.  I know I absolutely did the right thing, but as so many have posted it is when I remember the 99% of him that makes me cry, his devotion, protection, joy, and the energy he gave to our home.  He came into our lives in April 2007.  I had no idea how to choose a puppy, basing my experience on two dogs my husband and I had before, one in 1983 and another in 1994, both older but gentle, we could leave them with friends when we went on vacations, no training needed.  Max was a whole different story and has shaken my emotions up to a point I felt I almost wanted to die that day, too.  I know that sounds over-dramatic, but as Jon Kantz spoke of in his book "The Good Dog," there are animals we cherish, and then there is the lifetime dog.  A dog, I believe, we bond with in an almost soul-to-soul way.  I, too, like Paul mentioned, felt I had played the "God card."  I cried so much afterwards that the vet's office was worried I could not drive home.  I chose to take him to the vets by myself.  It was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life.  When I first saw Max in 2007 he was a downcast pup-I was not allowed to see all the puppies together or see his living conditions out back, his dam; and, of course, realized after much internet reading, it was a backyard breeder and I had picked the fear-aggressive pup.  I brought him home, my youngest, then 11 yo, son chose him too and he was to be my son's dog.  After medical treatment, shots, Max at 12 weeks went from downcast to suddenly being food aggressive, and then curled his lip and growled at the vet.  To say she was shocked is downplaying it.  She told me "to watch it."  Second time, male vet, gave me a 20 minute talk about Max having some wolf mix in him, what if he bit a stranger or my son, and that he should be "up there" meaning euthanized.  I changed vets.  After all, he was a puppy and I thought I could with love stop the growling/curling lip.  He was not tied up, hardly on his own as I work evenings from home, never left outside, but came in the house when he wanted, slept on "his" chair.  He was taken to the beach, dog park.  Regular vet checks, shots, good food, consults. I tried to socialize him, but 15 months of the dog park ended one day when he growled at a young girl of about 4 yo, when he was drinking water.  I never took him back.  I stopped any strangers petting him as one day as I talked to a neighbor, her 7 yo was 2 feet away from Max's face; everything was good and then it was like a light switch went on and Max lunged at the boy.  He didn't make contact and I had him on a leash, but it was by the Grace of God Max didn't hurt him.  I cannot mention every incident in my posting, but Max reacted to everything, UPS, repair men.  We had to put Max in the bedroom if a person outside the family came to the house, and my husband says now, looking back, we were very lucky someone seriously had not been hurt.  Max bit my brother-in-law in 2011, which was the worst bite, my son's girlfriend last year, three bites at once to her elbow, thigh and finger, not needing stitches, but we made excuses, how my BIL was almost challenging Max, my son's girlfriend startled Max while he was asleep.  However, Max had bitten my husband and my 26 yo son.  I reached out to an animal rescue last August and completed a lengthy form, photos, offering to donate monthly, asking if Max could have a temporary home at the rescue center, thinking we could sell and get a house with more separation for Max from the main living room.  Only 2 replied, stating in this economy it is hard to place animals, and that often it is something we humans are missing.  Then, January of this year, my youngest came home from his after-school job, Max slowly got up from the other side of the room, wagged his tail, went to my son.  I played it cool, thinking any anxiety on my part Max would feed off of.  My son petted his neck, and then I again heard that sound of a sudden attack, and he bit my son on the arm, blood, bruising.  By then, I was holding Max back as he appeared to want to go again, saying loudly NO, and putting him outside.  This time there was no incident of Max being started or being challenged.  This was completely unprovoked and his behavior was escalating.  We did have a behaviorist assess Max but there had been so many incidences, and living with the unpredictability was nerve-wracking.  I tried, and I have to think of how I gave Max 7 years of a good life, and it had to be done for the family's safety, and we were not feeling safe within our own home.  Max never bit me, it was like he was my protector, however, it's impossible to have a dog, no matter how much you love them, around your family/humans when they are a ticking time-bomb. As my vet said, my guilt of putting Max to sleep would be nothing compared with the guilt if my son or someone else was in the ER after being seriously hurt. My vet said it was a trust issue and would get worse as Max got older.  Max was 108 pounds and so the level of injury he was capable of goes without saying.  One rescue group worker told me they saved a husky from being put down after it had attacked a person tearing half their lip off.  I could not live with myself if something like that happened.  But, emotionally it is hard.  I couldn't relax much before when I went out, for example, grocery shopping, in case Max turned on a family member, and now I go out and the anxiety is replaced with guilt.  I found myself crying in the pet isle while buying cat food.  I remembered how I would get Max his dental sticks and he would be there at the back door waiting.  I told the vet he would have taken a bullet for me, I would walk him late at night and he was always hyper-aware and vigilant that I never worried, I felt so safe and he was so intelligent.  I miss him, our walks together.  When I came back from errands, from crazy traffic, people's attitudes, to walk Max was like a respite.  It was quiet time, watching him look at geese flying overhead, his reactions, how he sniffed at plants, how he would nudge my hand.  I can't imagine getting another dog, he was a best friend to me.  But, when I think of the good times, I also think of that one percent of when he turned or how his muzzle would crinkle and a full set of fangs were flashed.  I have to work on forgiving myself for choosing to end his life, when he wanted to protect mine.  Thank you to all who have posted, and to Phyllis.  You have all been therapy for me.  God Bless.  


Sue 
April 18, 2014

I am weeping as I write this.  Thank you for posting this article on a very sensitive but real situation for a lot of dog-lovers.  I went through a similar situation with my own dog recently, and I have been heartbroken, grieving and self-blaming non-stop.  I adopted him from a rescue, so I'm not sure whether he was abused or simply "not wired correctly."  I did everything I could to save/re-train my job.  Everything.  Diet, training, "dog camp," natural/organic foods, lots of exercise, homeopathic medicines, even dog "psychologists."  But he grew more aggressive.  Now I have 2 young kids so there is more at stake than just my life and my limbs.  I have spent thousands of dollars and thousands of hours to try to avoid the last resort.  This article summarized exactly how I felt and mirrored a lot of what I did that led up to the point where my dog was put down.  Thank you.  I feel like I can finally sleep at night.  I still don't like what ultimately happened to my dog and I still feel guilty and heartbroken, but you have reminded me that I did in fact do my best and everything that I could, before my own dog killed or maimed me or my children.  Thank you.


Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM 
April 15, 2014

Jon, I think I speak for all of us here at VetzInsight in saying how glad I am that you've found solace and some community through this conversation.  The absolute credit goes to Phyllis DeGioia for her courage in sharing her own story in a way that has touched more people than most of us ever would have guessed possible.  You've brought up a point that I think is an important one.  You say, "I will always wonder if there was more I could do to help my best friend."  I don't think there is a practicing veterinarian who hasn't heard that sentiment from so many clients when facing the end of an animal's life, no matter the cause.  I've heard it from horse owners, dog owners, cat owners, goat owners, even cattle ranchers, and I've felt it myself. You are absolutely not alone.


Jon 
April 12, 2014

 I just want to thank you a million times over for starting this conversation that we have somehow all found. From the responses I have received through both the posts here and the emails to me, I want you to know what a wonderful and therapeutic conversation you started. Before I had to go through this myself, I did not know how many people had to struggle through the awful, awful times that we have all gone through. It helps so much to know that we are not the only ones. For everyone that has responded here or emailed me, I thank you too for helping me to talk about it. I will never, ever feel good about what I had to do. I will always wonder if there was more I could do to help my best friend, but it helps so much to know that I am not alone in this struggle.


Amy 
April 10, 2014

I'm looking for comfort as I sit here with my 5 year old beautiful pup laying at my feet and am faced with this exact decision.  I know what I must do though I'm an emotional mess.  I'm wondering if there is anyone who has gone through this that would be willing to chat with me to help me come to terms.  If so, I'd be so grateful if you'd email me at amycastillo@msn.com.  I've spoken with my vet today who was of great help but the emotional side is what I'm struggling with so deeply.  It was not a coincidence I came upon this post tonight.


Teri 
April 9, 2014

I've been crying on and off for a few hours as I begin to consider euthanize  my 5 yr old chihuahua/terrier rescue. I just got him two months ago today. Prior to coming to my home he spent his complete life in a cemented back yard, sleeping through the cold and the heat. He was alone and unsocialized. He growled at everyone...even the woman who fed him twice a day. I naively thought I could bring him home (where I already had two chihuahuas) and make him happy with love, food, exercise, and consistency. It has not been that easy. It was a week before I could touch him and 3 weeks before I could carry him; touching and carrying him scares me because he bit me 2 weeks ago and continues to "snap" (unsuccessful bites) at  me without warning.


Jon 
April 6, 2014

To Lisa: I am so sorry that you had to go through this. no  pet owner should ever have to deal with this. It has been almost a month for us and every day I still contemplate the choice we made. There is a huge weight off our shoulders in that  we do not need to worry about George and where he was... what he was doing,,, who was coming and who was going... it is a great relief not having to worry, but it is also a great loss of a part of our family. George was not aggressive with us, he just protected us like it was his job. In his mind it was his job. Loyal as could be. And losing that top dog leaves a huge hole in our lives. I work nights and I never did worry when he was home. Nobody was going to f with my house or my family. And when I got home he was right there to greet me, as if to say "it's all clear, I've been watching"... I still see him when I get home and open the door at 2 a.m. and my wife and daughter are asleep. I know he is still watching over us!


Christina 
April 5, 2014

Your post was truly touching. I had to euthanize our family's pitbull last year, and I still suffer for it. I cry every time I think about it. But he had broken skin so many times, and the last time, he mauled my brother's girlfriend and she threatened to call animal control. I knew if they came, he'd attack them, and they'd shoot him. We had to make a decision. Either put him down as peacefully as we could, or let someone else take him and kill him. While at the time it felt forced, and necessary, I still regret it. He bit everyone in my house except me. He slept in bed with me every night, under the covers, snuggled against me. The remorse I feel is so heavy sometimes I can't even think about it without crying. But you're absolutely right. He would have bit again. And who knows who it would have been or how bad. There was something neurologically wrong with him.  The vet thought epileptic seizures, maybe. Still, when your dog turns against his own family, it's nearly impossible to trust him 100% again. It isn't easy, and it feels terribly wrong, but sometimes, you have to do it, despite the heartache.


Judy 
March 30, 2014

I am so glad I found this article!  It was so helpful to know that I was not alone in having to make one of the most difficult decisions one can make about a beloved family pet.  Today we put our 12 year old terrier mix to sleep and it has broken my heart.  He was aggressive from the time we got him at 3 months. He started with food aggression, attacking our cats and lunging at other dogs on our walks.  Then he started growling and snapping at me at about a 1 1/2 years old.  We took him to an excellent behaviorist and it helped, but he was still aggressive towards the cats and during walks would still lunge at people and other dogs.  Then he bit our daughter.  Then he bit our son (off to the behaviorist again). Then he attacked our other dog...had to take him to the emergency vet...poor dog has a scar on his leg still from the bite.  Took him to the behaviorist again.  Then we put him on prozac...it calmed him a little, but obviously not enough.  He has  bitten me three different times...and the last time was it.  Luckily he was a small dog (16#s), but this time when he bit me he wouldn't let go and when he did he just kept coming at me until my husband threw a small ottoman at him and he finally stopped. It was like he completely lost his mind (not the first time)...all I had done was touch his back. We never hit him, never were harsh with him, and we felt like we always had to walk on egg shells around him as to not set him off. And when one of my cats became blind it became a safety issue for her as well.  I hope our boy is no longer in pain and in a better place.  It was the most difficult decision I have ever had to make in my life about a pet.


Jon 
March 24, 2014

Bluebird had a comment that really struck home with me. That when you do need to make this awful decision, it is sometimes the best one for your pet. We cry every night when we think about what was our dog's inability to cope with the "stresses" that he faced. And I put that in quotes because we still struggle to know why those things stressed him out. Friendly neighbors, friends and 5-year-old kids... I will just never understand. Just like Bluebird's cat, my dog was extremely fearful and unable to cope with these situations. Both animals acted on that fear by attacking. On the other side of the coin, it helps us in our grieving knowing that our dog is not suffering anymore.


Lisa 
March 22, 2014

I am sitting here reading your article and all of the accompanying comments with tears running down my face. I have a deaf Australian Shepard who is my heart and soul but has serious issues as well and I know I have to put him down. I have had him since he was 8 weeks old (he is now 9), and he started showing aggressive behavior at 3 months (he attacked a puppy in his training class). He has also bitten countless people, most recently a maintenance man and a vet intern at a kennel. He barks incessantly, can not be around other dogs,  or people he does not know. I have a knot in my stomach constantly and I live my life around his needs to make sure he can not hurt anyone. He recently attacked my partners foot (who he loves and has never shown any aggression towards before) and I know it's the last straw (even though the last straw was years ago). I have had this discussion about putting him down many, many times but have not found myself to be able to go through with it. I always make excuses and accommodations for him. This article and the readers comments have really helped put my situation into perspective and I am so glad I am not alone. I love my little guy with my entire being, but I also long for a sense of relief and the lifted burden of accommodating him and apologizing for him these past 9 years. I feel so guilty saying that, but it is the truth. I know he has never been wired right, it's not my fault and I gave him a damn good life when he was with me. It feels liberating to be able to say that. Thank you.


Dianne Weston 
March 21, 2014

I am sitting here with, Sparkle, my beautiful 12 year old bichon frize, by my feet and my heart is breaking because I fear I have to have her euthanized. Most of the time Sparkle is a well-behaved, obedient, devoted and loving companion; but she has become unpredictably aggressive, towards both our other dog and people, (including family members) such that even I am wary of touching her and we must keep her on a lead at all times around our other young dog. She was a wonderful playful puppy, if somewhat submissive; until a bad experience as a puppy turned her ‘flight’ to ‘fight’. Still, she generally got along well with other dogs, even in her own yard. She was friendly and tolerant, and though she followed me everywhere, she was not afraid of storms or separation and was totally obedience trained. Really a joy to have as a pet; everyone loved her. Around 7 years old, Sparkle developed a series of health problems (Arthritis and suspected Cushing’s Disease) and became irritable and occasionally snappy at some of my daughters friends, especially after one of the friends accidently stomped on her. She even bit an old man who was boarding her, such that he needed stitches and I thought I’d have to have her put-down, but the new kennel she was transferred to, said she was a dream; a real lady and so I gave her another chance. I turned to a natural BARF diet and supplements to treat her health condition and after several years on the new regime, all the Cushing symptoms and the arthritis disappeared.  Still, she seemed to be depressed and remained unpredictably snappy/nippy at some people.  Sparkle was 11 years old and now, she was in good health and the vet said a new puppy pal would probably mean a new lease of life for her. So we bought another Bichon Freze, called Pearl, and Sparkle hated her from the get go. Sparkle has attacked Pearl endless times, ripping her tooth out and splitting her palate among other injuries.  Her snapping and biting other people has also escalated. I have consulted 2 different dog trainers and pursued all types of behavior modification, but the consensus is she is too old or there is something wrong. She has bitten me 3 times now, needing medical attention on two occasions. Once when I was breaking up her attack on Pearl and once when I woke her up and Pearl was next to me. Because it was dark and as Sparkle has developed cataracts, I made excuses. On another occasion, while in the TV room, my daughter laid down on the floor beside my chair and Sparkle lunged teeth bared straight for her face – the lead stopped her.  Again I blamed the cataracts.  She continued to bully and attack Pearl and unpredictably nip people she had known for ages. But after she bit my husband (drawing blood), we took her to the vet, who suggested we try Clomav, anti-anxiety medication. Unfortunately, it seems the medication is not working.  Sparkle has been on Clomav for 8 weeks now and over that time, though I kept the dogs in different yards or on leads, Sparkle has still attacked Pearl 4 times; and though I warn people and am more wary myself, she has bitten 2 more people (though not drawing blood) who were patting her; and also bitten me (again not drawing blood) last night as I just reached to pat her. Remember you can pat her 90% of the time and she just loves it.  Her behavior is so unpredictable. One of the two men bitten, two weeks ago, was delivering her from a Pet Resort and he had been patting her all day and then she bit him late in the afternoon, out of the blue – no warning, Then she is immediately remorseful. What is wrong with her? What am I to do? I have 3 young grand children, who often come to visit.  Is Sparkle a danger to them? Is this normal dog behaviour?   Am I over reacting? I am so full of guilt about the possibility of taking her life, I don't know if i can do it.


Bluebird 
March 20, 2014

This article does put it into perspective.  I have an 8 year old cat that is horribly aggressive.  She attacks without warning and it's never predictable.  My cat has attacked and tormented my other sweet cat and bitten me and my husband for about six years now. I have permanent SCARS from deep bite wounds, and have gotten infected.  Before, I always felt that if a creature could be saved, it should be, but if your life is being held captive by this animal...then it's time to take action. I have tried EVERYTHING to help her.  Feliway, behavior modification etc...I have not tried medicine because you can't get close enough to her to give her meds, and the vet says medication for this kind of problem is iffy at best. I think we will be euthanizing our cat this week; even though it's hard, it's the best for her, for us and for our other cat.  I could get another cat that would appreciate what we do for it; instead of this multiple personality mental kitty.


Kristin 
March 19, 2014

I am so glad to have stumbled across this. We are returning our 12 week old husky/shepherd puppy to the rescue group. I am heartbroken. She has some issues with us but we took her to a puppy class at the vet school to socialize her. The first class she bit two other dogs, they said it was food aggression. At home we have no food issues, just biting when we hold her or move her. Yesterday at class she was lunging at the other dogs- such aggression that it was scary. The doctor who is a behavior specialist, suggested putting her down. I cannot bring myself to do it, so am thankful the rescue will take her back and try to train her. To have these issues with a 10-12 week old puppy is just plain scary. With small children, I just can't afford to have anything happen to them. I am glad the doctor was straightforward with me. Through my sobbing, she could probably tell that it is extremely difficult for me to accept that this puppy is just not right. I am glad I read this and although we are devastated, I know it is the right thing to do.


Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM 
March 19, 2014

One more thing...upon reading Jon's touching story, it occurred to me that a number of readers of this piece may be facing the painful decision of euthanizing a pet in a family with children involved.  We do have an article entitled "What do we tell the kids" that offers some general suggestions on handling this.http://www.vin.com/vetzinsight/default.aspx?pid=756&catId=5874&id=5925880


Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM 
March 19, 2014

I just wanted to express the appreciation of those of us at VezInsight for the thoughtful, heartfelt, and emotionally challenging discussion taking place here.  Our comments are moderated, and as the person who does the final posting, I have to say that the dialogue has been largely constructive and supportive.  Because of the sensitive, emotionally charged nature of the subject, we have been enforcing the "no personal attacks" rule of the comments policy more stringently than we may have in a discussion on say pet food, or inappropriate elimination. This balance is a challenge for us as several members of this team are also journalists and sensitive to the importance of free speech. If you have received an email from us saying that your comment could not be posted as written, please understand that we always welcome re-writes that contain more constructive suggestions and less personal language.  We don't all need to agree (that would just be creepy, in fact!), but walking a couple of feet in the other person's shoes goes a long way toward a greater mutual understanding.  It has been inspirational to watch exactly that empathy unfold in this thread.  Thank you all.


Jon 
March 19, 2014

To quote a line from a previous comment ... "thank god I found this article." I came across this when my wife and I had reached the bottom of the barrel. We knew we had to do something but we were just searching for a solution. And to be honest, I wasn't going to comment. But when I realized that the original article was posted in August 2013 and the last comment was just days ago, I felt it was my duty. Tonight it is my therapy. We struggled with our Australian shepherd, George, for the better part of his 2.5 years. We got him from an area breeder, and though he was a shy puppy we never thought much of it. He grew into the most beautiful, smart and loyal dog you will EVER see. And when I say smart, damn it man, it took me about 30 minutes to teach this dog to shake, give high-five and ... because that was so easy... high-ten. His limits and athletic ability were endless. He was a Frisbee freak and would chase a tennis ball for hours, on land or at sea. My favorite thing to do was take him to the beach, where he would charge the water and jump three feet in the air over the waves, get his ball and surf back in. Nothing like it. He was just so awesome .. and, looking back, I think that is why we let him get away with his aggressive outbreaks. It first started when he was young. About the time when his puppy days were over, his shyness had turned into fear. He would inexplicably cower and shake in some situations, and when in the wrong situation on our property he would charge and bark. And, at times, bite. Lucky for us the "nips," as we called them, were on friends, family and quality neighbors who, like us, knew George and would for the most part shake it off. He was a herding dog ... just trying to do his job. Keep in mind that at this point he was a solid 75-pounder and cut like a rock. A true athlete. And I'm sure a scary sight for his targets. When the problem got to a point where we knew we needed help, we sought the help of a reputable trainer. It was a tough three weeks without him and a couple of grand later, but we thought we had a good point where we could at least be in control. Remember he was a smart, smart animal, and I know he understood the training. But even the trainer .. this guy trains German shepherds to be police dogs... had words of caution. He told us George had severe fear aggression and didn't recommend he be in a house with a child. We have a child. And she has friends. Even so, George didn't always act out, and now we had a way of dealing with it ... so we thought. The problem continued, more outbursts to the point where we were constantly worried about him. When we knew friends (adults or kids) were coming over, he would be in his down-stay and though anxious he would be ok. Or we would put him outside or upstairs in his crate. Problem solved. But it was the times that we could not anticipate when he would pop up in a flash and go into his protection mode. Kids at the door, neighbors in the yard... His loyalty to us was out of control. He was programmed to protect the heard, and that was what he was doing. His fear turned into our fear of who his next target would be. Two days ago we made the painful decision to put our Georgie down. Up in a farm in New Hampshire, we told our 7-year-old. Her first reaction to her bud being gone was that we could visit him and still be part of his life.. when told that wasn't an option she said, "well, wherever he ends up, he'll be in heaven." The hardest part for us is we don't blame him. He was doing his job by protecting us. As loyal as could be. Just a hard-wired dog who never got his chance to work like he wanted. Like he needed. The last two days have been tough, wondering if there was more we could do. But short of moving to a farm in New Hampshire, we did do everything. Doesn't help the pain. I suspect that most people who have read this far have either been through this before or are going through it now. Like I found out when I saw this article and the comments, you are not the only one. We love these pets so damn much, but sometimes they are not controllable. Sometimes it is beyond anything we can do and the animal in them just takes over. George is in his farm in the sky, and I know he will be protecting us every second of every day. Just like he did at home. Love you buddy. For my therapy and your own, if anyone would like please email me at zins@newportri.com.


Phyllis DeGioia 
March 14, 2014

Have you spoken to the breeder? I'm unclear from your message as to whether he is four months or four years old, but any responsible breeder should take the dog back at any point; if the breeder isn't willing, it's not a responsible breeder, although that doesn't help you. I agree that placing him into rescue or a shelter is not a good solution, where he will likely be euthanized after being frightened and feeling abandoned. Passing on a problem dog may be an answer for you, but it is likely not a good choice for the dog, who will experience significant stress, or the people who have to deal with his aggression. I'm afraid that a dog with numerous physical issues and aggression would be extremely difficult to adopt out; would you want to adopt a dog like that? Your vet believes that even with training, there is only a 5% chance that he will improve; why don't you call a trainer specializing in aggression or a veterinary behaviorist and see if they agree? In the meantime, teach your children not to approach or interact with a sleeping dog and don't allow their friends to play with the dog, as you will be legally liable for any bite. I'm so sorry you are experiencing this.


Ourpuppy 
March 13, 2014

I am really torn on what to do and what is the right decision. Our family recently got our first puppy. We have 5 kids so I have always leaned more toward simple pets like fish. However my 16 year old son has begged for a dog for years and  since my youngest is now 9 I thought maybe they are old enough to help share in the responsibility and care of a dog. We bought our son a jack Russell terrier after extensive research believing this breed would be the best fit for our active hectic lifestyle and would be the best of both worlds a smaller dog yet smart with some larger breed qualities. I will admit we went into the process a bit naive when it came to breeders and choosing our first little guy and quickly realized how devastating this mistake can be. We purchased our little guy at 8 weeks old and he soon became our newest edition. He was a family pet but technically my sons dog. However the homecoming didn't last. He seemed aggressive from the beginning biting at and chasing my sister in laws large dog. He did what I called "puppy biting" very early on and continues to do so buy I attributed a lot of this to my son allowing him to play that way. We took him to see the vet right away and in his 4 yrs of life he has probably seen the vet more than most dogs in their first 2 years of life. We quickly discovered he had sever reactions to vaccines, ring warm, and most likely an immune system disorder. But what we also noticed was he had an aggression issue as we'll. After not feeling our original vet was able to properly take care of our little guy and understand his issues we found a holistic style vet who focused more on nutrition and behavior. Unfortunately at his first visit he snapped at the new vet whom seemed very surprised given our puppies age. After multiple visits and around a thousand dollars later trying to treat his physical issues our vet seemed increasingly concerned telling me over and over "puppy biting" wasn't normal and neither was aggression in a dog as young as this; there had been a few instances of aggression, growling, snapping, and bearing teeth. Our vet strongly recommend puppy preschool classes but unfortunately we had just missed the age cut off. After our last incident where my 9 year old went over and began petting him and singing him a song while the puppy was sleeping and he growled and bite/nipped sons chin (it left a scratch did not break the skin) my vet recommend we get rid of him. He told us that he feels the dog is not wired right, that it probably stems back to the breeding/breeder and believes with the dogs physical and temperament issues he thinks something is seriously wrong and our puppy needed to be rehomed to a place with no kids immediately. He said that he believes even with a good trainer the dog probably only has a 5 percent chance of getting better mentally and with the money it is going to take for the physical issues combined with the mental issues that was a big endeavor for such little odds, also warning against the high possibility of him biting one of our kids or neighborhood kids. We do not have that kind of money to put in for such a low chance of success for his mental state. If it were just physical we would find a way or If there wasn't the chance of a kid getting hurt as this dog grows. BUT he is only 4 months old and we can't find a home for him without children, no shelters will take him because he has shown signs of aggression. Our vet recommended the humane society but I know what will most likely happen to an aggressive puppy there. Plus he is our baby he sleeps with my son or my middle daughter, I can't bear to think of him in a cold cage and I know he most likely won't do well there and what will happen if he is aggressive. He is so young a little over 4 months old I just don't feel right turning him over knowing what will most likely be his outcome but my husband says we can't keep him, we just can't risk it. But again I just don't feel right, maybe he's not wired right and nothing will help, or maybe in a different home with no kids and an experienced owner he can have a chance. It has been a week since our vet spoke with us and my husband insists we have to get rid of him soon, he is upset but sees no other way and feels delaying is only making it harder. Not sure why I am posting I have never posted to anything before, I guess for help I'm not sure.


Chad (Houston, TX) 
March 13, 2014

After 2 years of working with my 4-year-old aggressive boxer (I know ... aggressive boxer?), I have decided to euthanize him.  We adopted Dutch and his sister Sadie (litter mates) two years ago.  She is the typical boxer ... and so is he; however, he has unpredictable aggression that we have come to realize will never get better. Shortly after adopting them, he struck at a friend who had picked up one of his toys.  The skin was not broken, but it was very frightening for her.  A few months later, he severely bit my niece in the face.  We decided at that point that we would not euthanize him and spent several hundreds of dollars on trainers and behaviorists.  Even though during one of the visits with the behaviorists, Dutch bit one of her assistants, she still told us that she did not recommend euthanizing him.  We could never be assured that he would not bite again, but if we were diligent about controlling his environment we could probably be happy with him and prevent further incidents. Getting into all of the details about further incidents over the last few years is not important.  99% of the time he is wonderful and loving.  He is goofy like most boxers and we have many laugh-out-loud moments.  He and his sister run and play around the pool.  They are very easy to take care of.  Walks around the neighborhood are fun.  We have no issues with feeding him.  He will not grab toys or treats out of our hands.  He’s house trained and knows several commands.  At night he and his sister cuddle up with us or each other.  I love him and would rather be with him than most people.  He’s 99% perfect.But what we’ve finally realized is that the 1% unpredictability is killing us.  Dutch has some mental issue that we cannot fix and, most importantly, CANNOT BE CONTROLLED.  Though we get tons of joy out of him and love him like a child, our quality of life is severely impacted by having to remain constantly alert of his environment and on guard for things that may cause him to act out ... sometimes against his own sister.  Additionally, we realized that it’s not fair to HIM that our emotional attachment should enable us to force him to remain in a constantly stressed state.  Having him ripped away from us by the law because of further incident and euthanized in a shelter is far worse than making an informed decision to provide a peaceful, controlled end. I can’t express the pain that I have in my heart for having to make a decision like this.  However, I have peace knowing that I am not only doing what’s best for me and my family, but for Dutch as well. I have done all that I can for my baby boy.  I will now release him to God.  Please pray for me and I send my prayers out to everyone who must make this very difficult choice.


Phyllis DeGioia 
March 12, 2014

I think a simple "We don’t have him any more" or "He passed away" is sufficient. If they keep asking, say "I'm sorry, but I don’t feel up to talking about it." Everyone needs to deal with this difficult situation in a way that suits them. The vet who euthanized my dog and I comforted each other that day, and I hug her every time I see her, and sent her a card. She is not my usual vet, but the one I choose to see when my regular vet is unavailable. We've since talked about this article, and she pointed out that she first saw it on a rescue site that her veterinarian friend works with.  I think a well-written card expressing your understanding of the difficulty for veterinarians would be ideal, perhaps accompanied by a gift of some baked goods, gift card, or a bottle of wine, depending on what you feel is appropriate. Out of all those choices, I feel what you say in the card is most important. Performing euthanasia is emotionally difficult for vets even when it’s the best thing for the pet.  I saw an interesting article the other day called What's Euthanasia Like for a Vet? It Only Gets More Difficult http://www.catster.com/lifestyle/euthanasia-ask-a-vet-cat-pet, although it does not speak to euthanasia for aggression. I would also like to point out that my vet had the perfect response when I choked out that I had just euthanized a healthy 9-year-old dog. She said "If he was healthy, you wouldn’t be here right now." And she was absolutely right. I wish you peace in this difficult hour.


Michele 
March 12, 2014

This was an excellent article and the comments posted are also absolutely heartfelt.  We also made this difficult decision.  I have two questions:  What can you tell people?  We feel it is a deeply intimate matter, no one can really understand what was going on inside the home, but inevitably the question comes, “Where is your dog?”  Also, has anyone reached out to comfort their vet?  We would like to as it is very difficult for them to put down an otherwise healthy animal.  Any other aftermath comments or knowledge that might help others in their difficult hour.  Thank you.


Chris 
March 9, 2014

I am so glad I read this tonight. Tomorrow I will be putting down my 11 month old Japanese chin. He is adorable and hilarious but his aggression has become too much. I took him to a trainer and have worked with him for months and although he has improved with me he is worse with others. At the vet last week we couldn't even get him out of his crate. We have children and a new grand baby we have to protect from potential harm. I know it's the right thing to do but it is heart breaking for me. I put a lot of time and love into trying to help him. I know it's not my fault but it still hurts tremendously. I have tried to convince myself things will be a lot calmer after tomorrow and we won't have to be overly cautious like we are now but only time will convince me. I will miss him dearly.


Mark 
March 4, 2014

Thank you for this article. My wife and I must euthanize our beloved 3 year old Doberman rescue this week. She is having seizures that cause her to be aggressive and unresponsive until they pass. She has had issues since even before we adopted her, but things have really gone downhill in the last month with the frequency and duration of her seizures. We have looked into every medication, behavioral training, and an exhaustive list of other options to no avail. We still feel so guilty that we couldn't help her, but there is literally nothing we can do that would make her safe to be around. I sincerely hope your comments about not needing to "walk on eggshells" are true because that is the only positive thought that is helping me get through this.


Mica 
March 2, 2014

I am on the verge of tears reading this because I feel in my heart that I must do the same for my rescue.  I have had her two years now.  She has nipped at three different people in my home and is aggressive to all dogs she passes in the street.  I am a mother of two young girls and although she is fine with our family members, I too am always "walking on eggshells". My heart is breaking.


Phyllis DeGioia 
February 19, 2014

Kell, I understand how heartbroken you are, and the depths of that anguish. It sounds like you did an excellent job of managing to separate him for years, and I can imagine the effort that you took to do so. It's particularly difficult to physically handle a 107-lb pound dog in a fight, although it's not easy with small dogs.  Your concerns sound valid to me. As Dr. Gaspar says, escalating behavior is not good in any species. I wish you luck and peace.


Kell 
February 18, 2014

I am faced with putting down my nine year old pitbull/rotweiller mix Tater. He was attacked when he was 2 years old and has had problems and aggression/socializing ever since. He was in a dog fight when he was three over a rawhide bone. Killed a raccoon under the house and a stray cat that wandered in the yard at about age 5, but has never harmed my 15 year old cat. At which point he was always on a leash when outside. More leash training and socialization followed, and he made a buddy. Soon we were able to trust them off the leash together and they had a blast. A few months later I left town for the weekend and they stayed at the house, all was fine for three days until my older female dog Teaka tried to referee and Tater attacked her, leaving her with multiple puncture wounds and drainage tubes. They were kept separated and when three days later I did finally bring him in on the leash to see her, all 107lbs of him dropped to the floor whining, crawled over to her and licked her paws. From this point forward I did not allow him to socialize off leash at all, and monitored closely for other signs of aggression. He is soft mouthed and not aggressive when I take away his food or toys and showed no further aggression toward Teaka. Last year a roommate needed her ex's dog to stay at the house for "a couple of weeks" and  I agreed, but under strict separation and supervision requirements. However, these precautions were not met by all and a couple of times they all did meet outside, the first time was fine, the second was not. Both dogs had a hold of each other and wouldn't let go. Both suffered injuries that could have been much worse if placed differently. Fast forward to two days ago and Tater escaped through the garage door that had accidentally not been secured. He ran across the street and attacked a small terrier(?) that was on a leash, picking him up and shaking him.  My boyfriend realized what had happened and ran over to break it up right as Tater first bit the dog, I heard the commotion from inside and ran out about thirty seconds into it, the woman on the other end of the leash continuously pepper sprayed me, my boyfriend, her dogs wounds, but barely got Tater, I am not sure how long it took us to get him off of the terrier, maybe 3-5 minutes, but we did and his owners rushed him to the emergency vet and he is currently recovering from an $1,100 surgery. Tater is sweet and loving towards people and such a goofball. I feel that he cannot be trusted anymore. What would have happened if the lady's granddaughter had been walking the terrier and had tried to keep him away from Tater? I cannot honestly say. He has never shown any aggression towards humans or children, but his aggression on other levels continues to dangerously escalate. I am heartbroken at this decision.


Felicia 
February 9, 2014

My heart breaks as I read this.  I have a 2 year old German Shepherd who is so loving towards me but dangerously aggressive to anyone who comes near me and has bitten my 5 year old nephew unprovoked.  I've tried training and medication and have always felt that I would be a murderer if I put her down.  This article does put it in perspective.  I've been making excuses for her behavior as she's nipped at people and lunged at them (fortunately on a leash). I'm not sure what will happen next.  :(


Phyllis DeGioia 
January 29, 2014

Masoud, I don't know if it was the best choice of the veterinarian, and anyone would hate to second guess if it was without knowing the dog's exact history. However, it is difficult beyond measure to live with a biting dog, even a little one, that cannot be leashed, much less groomed. It sounds like you were in a difficult situation. I hope that your next dog has a better temperament and will enjoy the love that you and your wife will have for him, one who can enjoy going for walks and interacting with others. I wish you peace.


Masoud 
January 27, 2014

I had a 4 year old Malthese pet and I had to euthanize him 3 days ago. He had bitten me & my wife many times. We really loved him but we were afraid of even grooming him. He even did not allowed me to leash him. We are so sad at the moment with broken heart and his good remembrances. I could not sleep these 2 nights. I do not know; was it the best choice of his veterinarian?


Roy Berlin 
January 26, 2014

I had to put my 14 month old shepherd down yesterday.  Two weeks ago he slipped his collar and bit a jogger.  The girl had to get a couple of stitches. Then a week later he attacked our other dog who he was raised with.  17 staples to close the wounds.  When I Dakota he was 11 weeks and not socialized at all.  He was skittish but never aggressive.  I feel like I let him down.  The guilt is overwhelming.  In my head I know I had to do it.  There are too many kids and grandkids around.  In my heart I feel like I betrayed him.  I can see by the other posts I'm not alone.  But it feels that way!


Phyllis DeGioia 
January 21, 2014

Melinda, if you have exhausted competent professional help (veterinary diagnostics and behavioral assessment/training) and things still don't look better than poor, safety is what matters. In other words, if the aggression is something you can work with, work with it. If it can't be - and professionals say so - then you have your answer. If I were in your situation, I'd talk to the vet who treats the dog's epilepsy and anxiety. In the meantime, keep children away from the dog.


ChilliAus 
January 20, 2014

Last week, my partner and I made the decision to euthanize our beloved Lab X German Pointer beautiful eleven month pup we rescued. We have tried many training techniques since we got him as a 12 week year old, as he was dumped at a pound and was in very ill health being very skinny. He must have really struggled in those first 11 weeks of life, but just got to a pound where we then instantly took him. He showed high levels of resource guarding at an early age, and not just food, but toys, possessions, and random things at any given time. We have tried many training techniques since we got him to stop the guarding aspect, even though he was a really good dog at things such as ‘sit, down, wait, shake etc’. However, nothing could shake his need to guard, and when he started trying to dominate guests, and even flaring teeth and snapping at them, this was a serious warning to us. However, the final test for us was when he unexpectedly turned around and viciously jumped and snapped at my partners head. As he had some strange looking mixes in him, he was a very large Lab dog, long legs, skinny chest, and very good teeth and could have seriously hurt my partner who he loved so much, and was her shadow. We called a professional behaviourist to seek help, however she concluded that most techniques had already been tried, and that when a dog simply snaps like he does, with what size he is, in an unpredictable fashion over various unpredictable possessions, the only option was medication, or euthanasia. We spoke to a Vet behaviourist, and even though she said she could recommend medication, it simply would not guarantee he will not snap still, and we would still need to be on extreme guard of his behaviour. He was the best dog 95% of the time. When he was good, he was brilliant. He brought us so much joy, happiness and we loved every moment trying to get this dog from a dumped skinny dog, to a perfectly safe house dog, that we feel a massive sense of emptiness and loneliness now he isn’t around to entertain us, and for us to be there for him. Even though we seeked all the help we could, we are riding the emotional rollercoaster every day. Right now we feel really sad, we seem to have regretted our decision to go through with this, feeling that maybe we should have stuck by him longer, and now we just feel sick. We keep telling ourselves it was the right thing to do, but we also cannot help feel guilty. By the way, how is Paul going? He wrote on here January 2. I would like to hear back from him. Hear how Paul is coping.


Melinda 
January 19, 2014

We will hate to face this difficult task very soon, I feel. We have 3 beagles and one of them had always had issues. Seizures, anxiety, aggression. His aggression is getting worse, I feel, he snaps at our other dogs for apparently no reason. He is turning on us as well, if we try to correct him(not by hitting , even if we just say "no" to him, or "get down"). I love him dearly but I feel that putting him to sleep will be the best choice for all of us(especially for our 16 month old baby). I just don't know how I am going to live with myself after doing something like this. We know he will not last at a shelter. He will never pass the tests in there. Please, please, help me make the right choice!


Phyllis DeGioia 
January 16, 2014

Bailey, I understand. No one wants to euthanize a dog for aggression. My dog was a good dog unless he went an unpredictable episode. Everything about it is unfair, especially for her. I presume you've worked with your vet and/or a trainer or behaviorist, and that they both feel that euthanization is your best choice. Think about how guilty you would feel if she seriously hurt someone - a child, a neighbor, the UPS person, a family member. In those cases your guilt would be far more complex because you didn't prevent it from happening. I wish comfort and peace for you both.


Bailey Moore 
January 16, 2014

I am in the same situation. I tried to rescue a dog with a major history of abuse, but I didn't realize what we were getting into. She's become aggressive towards me and I'm afraid she will seriously hurt someone in my home. People avoid coming over because they're afraid of the walk from the car to our door due to her aggression. I don't want to euthanize her, but I feel like I don't really have another option. Deep down, I know she's a good dog. She has just been put through so much abuse it's hard to see the good sometimes. I hate the fact that I've tried to do the best for her and I get to be the one to make this decision. I don't know exactly what has happened, but when we found her she was kept in a tiny kennel without room to even turn around. The kennel was then put in a bathroom and she was constantly ignored. That family had rescued her and gotten her vet care because she had major wounds with maggots and infection. They just ran out of options with her and tucked her away. I feel so guilty.


Phyllis DeGioia 
January 14, 2014

Angela, I'm sorry you experienced this, but given that your fiancée ended up in the ER (thank goodness it was his arm rather than his face), it sounds to me like you made a wise choice. It is a terribly difficult one, as I know all too well, but you cannot live with a dog you do not trust, are afraid of, and who caused such body damage. Moose is now safe, as are both of you.  I respect you for not dumping him at the shelter, because then he would have been afraid and felt abandoned before they euthanized him for unadoptable behavior. I'm grateful that your vet has been telling you what he or she believes as that is indicative of how appropriate your choice was. It will be difficult for you for a while. I hope that eventually you will feel some peace about it; I know I feel peaceful about my decision. Please be good to yourself while you work through this.


Angela Meyers 
January 14, 2014

I cried when I read this.  My fiance and I made this difficult decision over the weekend after our 4 year old pup, Fin, out of nowhere, began acting incredibly aggressive toward our other dog, Moose, and redirecting his anger toward us.  Three weeks ago he bit me bad in the leg...there will be a scar forever...and then Saturday morning he mauled my fiance's arm....we ended up in the ER.  I loved my dog more than anything in this world but my gut told me something was seriously wrong.  From the time he bit me several weeks ago, I knew something was wrong and I no longer trusted him.  I have been beating myself up and will probably continue to do so for some time but I can honesty say that this article helped me so much.  His regular vet has been calling me and re-assuring me too but all the same, I still punish myself thinking I could have done more.  Thank you....


Alannah 
January 8, 2014

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the time you have spent in sharing your story. I myself have experience with a very anxious/unpredictable dog. My beloved pet and good friend Buddy a lab, although he consists of other breeds, is 8 and a half years old.  My mum purchased him when he was around eight weeks old and he was a very lively loveable pup. However my mum passed away when I was 15 and Buddy was just 1. As buddy's gotten older there have been many concerning behaviours that  developed like stealing possessions of mine and my siblings and 'guarding' them by bearing his teeth and growling and barking when you try to get the item back. He also can be people aggressive in situations where I am to leave him(Buddy cannot be left with others without being separated into a room by himself. He also will not walk with or go out into the garden for a pee with ANYONE but myself!) In these situations he has bitten people in one case quite severely although there has been around 5 incidents not including the one time he has bitten myself. He is also very temperamental around children; one minute he enjoys their company and will willing play and be petted the next he'll growl and bark when they pet him or enter the room. I've tried to help and accommodate Buddy by doing things like taking him to my sister's house before going to work to prevent him going for my boyfriend of six years. However he became anxious and slightly aggressive there. She moved and I was no longer able to do that. After buddy attacked my father's partner eighteen months ago I seriously had to think about perhaps euthanising him. After a lot of contemplation I couldn't go through with it. I organised a blood test with my vet. Although this is made almost impossible as he has to be severely sedated to even attempt a blood test and now I cannot even get close to the vet so Buddy got bloods taken wearing his muzzle on the pavement outside the car park. They came back clear....I then organised a visit from an animal behaviourist who determined Buddy had severe anxiety issues. He suggested Fluoxetine 60mg daily. He had been on these for eighteen months and a couple of weeks before Christmas I noticed Buddy going off his food which was very unusual for him. Another blood test determined that he had liver disease however they were unsure how severe it was and I was recommended to reduce his fluoxetine from 60 mg to 40mg a day and now within weeks I notice his bad behaviour returning. Ihave now decided that I am only realistically faced with one option....to get him euthanised. My dog is not a bad dog to me but I recently gave birth to my son 6 weeks ago and like you mentioned in your story I feel as though I'm walking on egg shells with him and I can no longer accommodate his behavioural needs and desires, I think if I was to persevere with buddy and his issues I would only be putting others safety in jeopardy. If anyone feels that they would like to comment on 'my story' please do so. Thank you.


Dr. Wendy Smith Wilson
January 6, 2014

Hi Matthew, Following castration, your Mastiff's testosterone (the hormone responsible for "puberty" and behavioral changes, just like in humans) will take anywhere from one to two months to reach a zero level.  For some behaviors that are related to the influence of testosterone, you should see improvement (if there's going to be any) pretty quickly.  You didn't mention how long it had been since his surgery or how long he's been on medication--I assume you're giving the Prozac under the guidance of your veterinarian at an appropriate dose. However--research into the behavioral effects of castration has shown that removal of the source of testosterone is not terribly effective in resolving the types of behaviors that you're seeing. Castration improves things like marking territory with urine and chasing off after the ladies, but unfortunately, fewer than a third of dogs that have developed aggressive behavior toward other animals or humans will have significant improvement after surgical removal of the testes. I would be greatly concerned that the behavior you're seeing may continue to escalate.  I think that your own words are telling:  "If he had attacked a human, the decision would be easier."  I would submit that while the decision would certainly be easier, the consequences that led to the decision would have been far worse.  I certainly don't mean to diminish the suffering of your Bloodhound, but you must consider it a warning that you may have been fortunate to receive. I absolutely agree with Phyllis--since you have years of experience with the breed and this dog is obviously not "normal," you need to get back in touch with the breeder about this guy.  If you intend to try to keep him, you need a certified veterinary behaviorist in your corner--they have far more experience with these cases than those of us in general practice can ever hope to have.  You can find one nearest to you here:  http://www.dacvb.org/resources/find/ I'm very sorry that you're in this position, and I wish you the best moving forward.


Phyllis DeGioia 
January 6, 2014

Matthew, it can take 6-8 weeks for medications such as Prozac to have full impact. I'm not sure how long it takes for the behavior effects of neutering to fully kick in, but I'll ask a veterinarian to answer that. Clearly the mastiff and bloodhound cannot continue to live in the same household as you cannot keep them separated, and I agree that it is unfair to rehome the bloodhound. Since even you, with 20 years in the breed, cannot handle him, I think that the most reasonable place you could rehome your Mastiff is with the breeder; any responsible breeder should take the dog back for any reason. The dog could be rehomed or euthanized by the breeder, but that is their decision, not yours.  The mastiff should be evaluated by a trainer or behaviorist specializing in aggression, but given the serious injury of your bloodhound I don't think you have time to do that.  Is it possible that someone could take one of the dogs for a short time while you try to sort things out? Could you board the Mastiff for a while? If you cannot come up with a reasonable alternative, I'm afraid that euthanization may be the best option for you. I wish you luck, and hope that your bloodhound is recuperating well.


Matthew Taylor 
January 3, 2014

I am trying to decide what to do about my 12 month old Tibetan Mastiff male who has seriously injured my 6 year old Bloodhound male (also very large).  The TM started to show aggression about 4 weeks ago, and after neutering and prozac shows no signs of slowing down.  I now fear for my Bloodhound's life.  Separation on my property is very difficult and makes my life impossible.  I see three choices, rehome the Bloodhound, which is unfair and doesn't guarantee the aggression won't show up somewhere else, rehome the Tibetan Mastiff, but that seems dangerous (I have been with the breed for nearly 20 years and I can't handle him), or have him put to sleep.  I am at a loss.  If he had attacked a human, the decision would be easier, but he is sweet with people so far, but doesn't hesitate to show the aggression in front of guests.  Any help would be appreciated.


Phyllis DeGioia 
January 2, 2014

Paul, I am so sorry for your loss and your feelings of regret. In the immediate aftermath of such decisions, our emotions are all over the place. I can tell you that for myself and my dog, I am absolutely certain it was the right thing to do, and I loved him deeply. In the immediate aftermath at the vet's, I turned to her with tears and said "I just euthanized a healthy 9-year-old dog." She said "If he was healthy, you wouldn't be here this morning." For me,  it's better to have all the sadness to myself than to experience my dog hurting someone else, as the guilt of that would never leave me. I would rather feel the loss from what I felt was the most responsible decision in my scenario.  The "God card" is likely also the "prevent a tragedy" card, although you can never know what you may have prevented. And that is part of the point: you don't want to experience a terrible event, you want to prevent it from occurring in the first place. I hope, with all my heart, that your regret lessens as you remember, with less emotional pain as time goes on, why you chose this step. My thoughts are with you as you continue to make sense of it all.


Phyllis DeGioia 
January 2, 2014

Kg, this is a difficult situation. She is not a monster, but a dog that size can inflict life-altering damage. Is it appropriate to choose euthanization over rehoming? Yes, but that doesn't mean it is the right thing to do in any given situation. It's difficult to know what I would do unless I'm actually in the situation. I ended up afraid of my dog, knew his issues about the stairwell landing, and knew I wouldn't likely walk away from a second fall down such steep stairs. His behavior had been escalating. As Dr. Gaspar says, escalating behavior in any species is unacceptable. You've talked to the breeder (and I'm wondering why she let the puppies go at only 5 weeks, which can lead to behavior issues) but have you spoken with your veterinarian and a good trainer/behaviorist? I would not be able to make a decision without talking to someone who specializes in aggressive dogs. Ask your veterinarian for his/her opinion and a referral to a trainer/behaviorist. If the trainer/behaviorist says it is unlikely that the behavior could be corrected - and I'm not sure how much can be accomplished with a wolf hybrid - then I would likely choose euthanization over rehomig. But I would not choose it without input from a trainer or behaviorist.


Paul 
January 2, 2014

Just two days ago I chose this route for my 5 year old Eskie. I received him as 3 month old pup from a well known reputable source and as such, no former abuse could be reasoned for his latent two-year development of nasty biting. I loved my friend deeply in spite of this, and I chose to overlook it, and what may have been his attempt to command my attention. Because I largely acted out of emotion after the last event, I will now never know what more I could have done to change his ways. Although euthanasia seemed the right thing to do a day ago, I now seriously question my motive for it in my guilt and remorse. Everyone's situation is different, and in speaking for myself I do not attempt to broadly paint all circumstance. I think being human and supposedly having superior intellect places more if not all blame for his bad behavior squarely upon me. Dogs certainly must act much of the time from hard-coded genetic instinct, yet I am not at all discounting my influence upon his life. Dogs do not understand the human condition and we cannot really understand what a dog thinks or feels as a whole. Euthanasia certainly ended the biting against me, but it will not be an answer for why the biting and what was my role in it. And yes, if my dog could have only spoken to me in a different way other than biting. I now think his actions against me may have been a call for help, in which I did not respond. I am certain of my human factor in the equation. I am not a abuser of animals and always restrained my emotions toward my friend when the bites occurred.
Here's what I have learned from this terrible event: At age 60 I am no longer an ideal candidate for a young ambitious and anxious companion. I did not and could not provide this animal with all of his physical and psychological needs. After having five previous almost perfect canines over the years.....and now this.....it has shown me that I must recognize my own limitations to ever again being an ideal pet owner. This realization has unfortunately come at the expense of my best friend. And while all my other dogs lives had to come to an end as well, the trauma for me was nothing like this one. Today, I am numb from the shock of this horrible act. My dog was in the prime of his life, and I consciously chose to take his life away. It seems I have played the god card. I feel terrible for what I have done and miss him dearly in spite of all his negative actions. He is gone now, but I will never be secure, as you say, in knowing it was the right thing to do. You may reconcile on your own terms, but for me it did not, and probably should not relinquish my pain after the death of my beloved companion. Although I am trying to make sense of all this, I just cannot make it right.....for me that is.


kg 
January 1, 2014

We have a 5 year old female malamute wolfdog that my husband and I have had since she was 5 weeks old.  She is very bonded to us and we have loved her unconditionally her whole life.  She has always been a bit of a handful, being the alpha of her litter of 9 pups - she began her reign as alpha puppy by dictating which pups could eat by 3.5 weeks old.  We worked with her extensively, and she is a well-trained, well-behaved girl aside from her issues.  The first issue is food/bone guarding (and only if the bone is food and not a chew toy) which we do not challenge her on after 2 years without being able to break her of it - her first bite ever was to me at 4 months over a bone she did not want me to get from her.  We tried all the tricks, but it only ever gotten better, we never broke her of her guarding.  She doesn't growl while eating, but no one ever tries to take her food either.  She also has exhibited instances "social aggression" like if you try to approach her while sleeping, she will growl, usually only if it is at night time.  The kicker is she has now bitten about 7 times total where she has broken the skin, with 3 being in the past 2 months, each to a different person during a different circumstance.  The first was my husband while he was trying to toss raccoon scattered dog kibble back into her bowl (she loathes the raccoons).  The second, was to an extended family member who is a stranger to her, but who tried to prevent her from going thru a passage way door on Thanksgiving and stuck his hand out to stop her.  The last was to a family member who went to pet her while she was sleeping on her rug.  All bites were snaps without growls and left puncture wounds.  We have two small boys and don't trust her to be around them, so we are keeping her away from them for the time being, but no that we must rehome her for their safety.
Now, I know she sounds like a monster painted in this light, but on all other accounts she is a regular family dog - and well-behaved in the sense that she has a happy playful disposition typically, doesn't do any bad things like chew or dig or try escape, get on furniture, pee, etc.  She's always greets us tail-wagging, quick to give chin licks and heavy leaning walk-by rubs. She listens fairly well and responds to commands, however here still, she basically always continues to exhibit all the characteristics of being an alpha dog (doing things only if it suits her). The question is this one -- as she's never known any other life, and we cannot predict the future if someone else were to get her -- is it appropriate to choose euthanizing her over rehoming her?  What would you do and why? I do realize it is a hard call, particularly with this limited synopsis.  But the breeder we got her from feels we may try to rehome her but it will be difficult, and that she may mourn the loss of her pack forever, and that with the uncertainty of what could happen, euthanizing is a valid option too.  Any thoughts are appreciated.


Phyllis DeGioia 
December 30, 2013

Andrea, I know the pain. I also know your Akita would not want you to get lost in your grief. There are many resources to help ease the grief; several places have pet loss hotlines, some of which you can find here: http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=1157. In our Veterinary Partner site, we have many articles on pet loss and grief, and it's helpful to read those; they include http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=3279 and http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=2451. In addition, there are numerous books to read. One of my personal favorites is Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant. It makes me cry every time I read it, but it is very cathartic. You don't say how long it's been since you euthanized your dog, but if you are enduring horrific depression more than a month or two later, it is likely time to talk to a professional who can help sort out the difficult emotions involved in euthanizing for aggression. They are far more complex than the loss of a beloved pet who dies of old age, and they can be difficult to sort through. Trust me, I understand the balancing act between what you felt was necessary and what your heart wanted without there being any possibility of meeting in the middle. Some of my friends have used antidepressants after loss of a beloved pet. It happens. any people need a helping hand to pull away from such grief. I wish you luck and hold your heart in mine, as we know the same loss and grief.


Andrea Alvarez 
December 29, 2013

I just had to put down my beloved Akita due to aggression. He had bitten twice, once to a child and one an adult. Both bites were unprovoked. This dog gave me so much joy and unconditional love- and it was returned. I feel like my heart has been ripped out of my chest and event though I feel as though I had to do this to protect others, I feel like I am living in a bad dream. Does anyone have any advice on how to get through this horrific depression. I miss him so much and can only hope there truly is a Rainbow Bridge, a Heaven and that he is curled up happily by my side and walking by my side with his joyful bounce through the rest of my days. I would appreciate any advice on how to get through this utter torment.


Chris 
December 26, 2013

Many thanks for your and everyone's stories and  comments.  I had a similar situation with my rescued Cairn terrier Kipper and made the heartbreaking decision to have him euthanized today.  So I, too, am sadly writing this in tears. Reading all these stories made me realize many people share this dilemma and provided comfort in helping me go of my beloved little dog, who I will miss forever.


Phyllis DeGioia 
December 26, 2013

Dear Samantha,The emotional conflict is very difficult - I know that. It broke my heart too. A Chihuahua can do some serious damage - just because the teeth and jaw are small doesn't mean that the dog can't cause painful and legally actionable injuries. I can tell you this: after I euthanized Dodger,  my house was surprisingly peaceful and easy. I realized just how much I had been walking on eggs around him, as you describe. The effort that takes is far more than you realize until you don't have to do it anymore. Your situation sounds quite dangerous and potentially legally actionable to me; you absolutely have to do something. No one should have to live with a dog they are afraid of. You don't say if you have given your dog a medical work up or worked with a trainer or behaviorist. I feel those options can save the dog, if it is possible, and need to be explored. I too cried until I couldn't breathe. Trust me, I get that. Whatever is causing the aggression is also causing a bad way of life for your dog and your family.  Talk to your vet and a trainer or behaviorist experienced in aggression. I wish you the best of luck.


Phyllis DeGioia 
December 26, 2013

Dear Susan, I am so sorry to hear about Lilly, and I understand the wild range of emotions that go with this decision. I was the recipient of one of those “three bites in two seconds” events and it is terribly frightening; it’s like the biting is in slow motion and you wonder when it will stop. It is comforting to know that you tried everything possible:  I hope it makes you feel the way I did, that you left no stone unturned and that there was no other alternative. That is a comfort and peace of mind that I value deeply. The timing for you with the holidays is an added layer of difficulty. Time does help heal us. Take care of yourself.


Susan 
December 23, 2013

Thank you so very much. Just two days ago, I had my Lily euthanized for aggression. 95% of the time she was amazing: funny, attentive, obedient. But after 4-1/2 years of anxiety and increasing dog aggression with our other dog, she escalated to us. Extra training, a behaviorist and a complete medical work up and bottom line, she was never going to be reliable. An 85 lb. dog is too high a risk and after her 3rd incident (in a calm petting situation) - 3 bites in a few seconds, we had to make the tough decision. After 18 years of large guardian breeds, I met one that I couldn't keep, nor give to anyone else.  The hardest thing is feeling like 'I could have done more' but the risk was too great. Those three bites on a face would have been disastrous. I don't really even feel like mourning is allowed...don't really want to talk about it with people who won't understand. Fortunately my vet is amazing. She's known me and my dogs for over 15 years and she really supported me through this decision and process.


Samantha 
December 23, 2013

Thank you for your story, I am dealing with the decision right now and it is literally breaking my heart, I do not know what else to do.. I have a 3 yr old chihuahua(which I know sounds too small to be a threat) but he has become so aggressive.  He used to sleep with us and was fine then one night about a year ago he went psycho and out of nowhere attacked my husband in the middle of the night causing him to have 14 stitches in his face.  We immediately removed him from our bed.  But over the last year, he cant lay on the couch with you and cuddle because if he falls asleep and anyone moves he attacks.. viciously!  He has bit and drew blood with everyone in our house, including a couple of my kids friends. We put up gates at night to contain him but kids forget sometimes and it leaves us open for attacks and lawsuits! And due to the fact that dogs sleep 10 hours a day, it seems more and more he is getting alienated because we cant have him falling asleep while watching movies with us,... etc  We walk on egg shells constantly around him.  We have all cried non stop, we love him so much, he is a part of our family and he would never hurt us intentionally.  He does all of this unconsciously and he zones out and is unreachable when he is attacking us.  He is loved, played with and like I said part of our family, but I have 3 kids and he is leaving scars, blood and fear in our house.  I feel so guilty even thinking about putting him to sleep. I've cried until I cant breathe... feeling hopeless


Michelle 
December 19, 2013

Mike N. I'm interested to see what you have found out. I have a 3 yr old pit/lab/bullmastiff mix that has become increasingly aggressive over the past 2 years. He is aggressive towards dogs & people & terrified of any new situations, sounds, things. While he hasn't bitten anyone he has come VERY close. I have a trainer coming this weekend & I don't feel very confident much will come of it but I need to do my best to try what I can until I come to the decision of putting him down. That being said, he is a very well behaved, sweet & loving dog to me. Best of luck to you & your four-legged buddy.


Renata 
December 19, 2013

Thank you for sharing your story. I am struggling with this decision myself. I have adopted a dog 7 months ago. I had couple professional trainers come to the house help me train him with no success. When he is in the house he is the sweetest dog and very playful. The minute he steps outside he is in the hunting mode and when I don't let him go after the pray he turns on me. Because in Chicago weather is very cold I wear heavy coat to walk him so he didn't break skin but completely ripped into shreds sleeve of my coat. I was told that because he was found as a stray he may never learn a different behavior. I had another trainer come out last night and answer was again the same. I am thorn on what to do. I know I can't keep him locked up inside and as the trainer said you never know what will set him off. 


Elizabeth 
December 11, 2013

Thank you very much for sharing your stories! I am struggling with the decision myself to decide what to do about my sweet shih tzu. I rescued her only 6 months ago and have worked with multiple trainers on her issues. She bit someone who was coming to meet her to be our dog walker yesterday in my house because she is very territorial and fearful of strangers. She has bit a few people in the past but nothing too serious. I am worried that even though her issues had been getting better, she is now getting much worse. She is very calm when it is just me and her, but I am starting to realize that because of her separation anxiety and constant fear of the world, she just cannot cope any more. I love her so much, but I feel it might be time to let her go. I don't think I can give her the time and special attention that she needs but I really do not want to give up on her too soon, if I could have done something more. It has helped me greatly with my decision to read all of these posts.


Jessica 
December 9, 2013

Thank you for sharing your story. I had to euthanize my dog last night for aggression toward children, and it has broken my heart. I know it was the right decision, but it still hurts


marissa s. 
December 8, 2013

I too am writing this with tears running down my face as yesterday I had to have my one year old chihuahua cross Jack Russell euthanized as he was so aggressive. As a tiny puppy he was absolutely gorgeous and with my family  he couldn't have been sweeter.  He started a while ago to become aggressive to children even though he had no previous bad issues with them.  He had no health problems and had been neutered. One day about a month ago when out for a walk even though he was on a lead he turned round and bit a young girl on the leg so badly that her parents called the police and took her to hospital.  I managed to persuade the police to give me a second chance with him because I loved him so much, but yesterday he ran out of the house and a child happened to be walking past and he did the same thing again.  I had to take the devastating decision to have him put down and I feel so guilty.  He was such a beautiful, cuddly young dog, but my vet said that there was no way I could keep him if he was going to keep hurting children so badly.  It was only yesterday that he died and I kissed him goodbye.  I can't stop thinking that there could have been more than I could have done, but reading these blogs has made me feel a little bit better.  It is of some comfort to know that others have been in the same position as me.


Rebecca 
December 4, 2013

Thank you so much for sharing your story. It showed up when I was searching for answers on what to do with my dog Jethro. He is a three year old beagle mix who has always been a little off. He is very anxious and his anxiety quickly turns into aggression. We have tried combating this with runs, training with multiple trainers, behaviorists, stress jackets, a calm environment and even a month long boot camp that drained my savings. He has always been particularly anxious around kids and we unfortunately learned this after he started nipping my nieces and nephews when he first met them. When I got pregnant that's when we sent him to the boot camp and hoped that he would accept the baby as part of our pack because it wouldn't be just some random kid. He did okay at first we introduced them slowly made sure that he knew the baby was above him and everything was going mildly okay until my son started walking. Now Jethro is growling at him whenever my son goes near him and I am petrified that he is going to bite. He has snapped at me before but never broken skin so I am at a cross roads. I feel like I have three choices: wait and see if he bites me or my son, try and find him a new home and hope he doesn't bite them, or put him down. I don't feel right about giving him to another home because of his many issues  I'm afraid he will be  mistreated or keeping getting passed around and that will only exasperate his anxiety. But then a part of me feels a huge guilt for even thinking of putting him down before he has actually bit someone. I'm hoping you can give me some peace of mind or kind words that I am not a terrible person for thinking this is my only reasonable option. I have sown thousands of dollars and countless hours on trying to help him adjust to the world but I am emotionally and financially drained. I have nothing left to give and I'm on constant pins and needles waiting for something bad enough to happen that I will be forced to make a decision. I can't keep living this way it's not fair to me, my family, or Jethro.


Mike N. 
December 2, 2013

Hi Folks, I am in a bad place right now with my beloved dog, a 6 year old pit bull mix I rescued 3 years ago.  He is wonderful with me, very affectionate, calm (usually), and well-behaved.  However, he has always been very dog-aggressive.  I took him to a behavioral specialist a few months after I got him and they couldn't do anything with him- he didn't last more than a minute without attacking another dog (who was very passive).  When I let him outside, he aggressively runs towards one side of the fence and does his best to get to another dog on the other side.  I check the fence regularly, but apparently I missed the hole he went through tonight.  He bit my neighbor's dog.  They have two small children.  He has growled at strangers before.  I am distraught about the thought of putting him down, as he is such a sweetheart with me, but I fear it may be my only choice.  I will call my vet tomorrow and the local pit bull rescue for advice, but if anyone has any thoughts, please let me know.  Thanks in advance.


Sandy 
November 28, 2013

This article and the comments have been extremely helpful. Our lurcher has been with us for over a year, and has always been on the nervous side, but we managed it carefully and understood its motivations. But for the last month he has been nigh-on schizophrenic - snarling and barking and snapping at the air; baring his teeth at the children; attacking our other dog. He's had both myself and my husband pinned up against the wall, which was terrifying, and has bitten me. It all seemed to change very suddenly, and after struggling with this for a month - taking advice on training, extra exercise etc - we took him to the vet. The vet examined him, and already new the dog well, but didn't give us news we wanted to hear - his professional opinion, backed up years of working with lurchers and greyhounds, was that he had essentially suffered a nervous break. He said he'd seen a lot of dogs of this type suffer the same fate, often brought on by some kind of trauma, like an attack or abuse. In our case it coincided with an especially bad experience with fireworks going off. He also said that in his experience, there was no going back. We considered the options of trying to rehouse him, send him to a shelter etc, but ultimately feel we are passing on a problem that can't be solved - and also that if we are honest about his problems (which we would have to be, I couldn't face the thought of him going to a home with children like ours, who love him but are also very scared of him now) he won't find a home, and will spend the rest of his days in a shelter. It's an incredibly difficult decision and one that is breaking our hearts - he is an otherwise fit and healthy boy, but essentially, he has mental health problems that show no signs of going away and may well escalate until he causes real problems. We are consumed with guilt and indecision, and the whole experience has been an ordeal.


Emily 
November 27, 2013

I have a beautiful Bichon Frise, she is almost 4 years old and is the love of my life. She has never been "normal" and at 6 months of age her vet said he couldn't spay her and that she was the most horrid animal he has ever seen so I found a new vet and she bit the vet tech so now she has to be muzzled. Since then she has gotten worse, she bites me, she bites my other dog, she attacked my roommates cat until the cat was too afraid to leave my roommates bedroom. At night I am often woken up to her sitting on my wheelchair growling at me or some nights I guess I touch her while I sleep and she attacks me. A couple months ago she really started going at my other dog and seemed to enjoy scaring her because she would charge at her and shriek in her face until my other dog coward and peed herself. I have sought advice and training for her behaviour but she hasn't improved and several trainers have blamed me for her behaviour. I have 2 other dogs that are happy, housetrained and well behaved and I just don't know what to do with my bichon. I have tried for almost 4 years with her and I don't know how much more i can do because my own health is starting to suffer but I feel so guilty and everyone keeps saying their are no bad dogs only bad owners so I blame myself and honestly this dog is killing me. She can be so sweet and loves to be cuddled but some days I am really afraid of her. 6 months ago she stopped eating so i took her to the vet but he could find nothing wrong with her but then she stopped drinking and had to be given fluids. After I ran out of money I took her home and syringed water into her mouth and forced food into her the vet called to check on her and he thought she must be really ill because "dogs will not starve themselves" his thoughts changed when i told him that she would come happily when called to have the water syringed and the food forced into her. She is honestly the most manipulative being I have ever encountered! I have to keep her leashed at all times because she cannot be trusted. I am so torn as to what to do because I do love her and she can be so incredibly sweet and she loves cuddles, having her picture taken, chasing squirrels, treats etc. so for the most part she seems happy but at times she seems to snap so me and my other dogs are left tip toeing around her, I just don't know what to do.


Chris Bartlett 
November 23, 2013

As I write this the tears are rolling down my face, I had a wonderful female Akita for 11 years, never any problem loved her unconditionally till she passed...bought an 8 week old Akita puppy to fill the gap that my Sassy left in my heart, at about 1 1/2 years old she first snapped at me over a chicken bone that I tried to keep her from. It did break the skin; since then she has snapped at me and broke the skin on my hand 3 more times when I reached for something close to her face.  She had an eye problem so I felt that might be making her nervous, so we had surgery to correct it. She will be two this month and in the last 2 weeks she bit my hand breaking skin in 4 places then attacked and bit my roommate's foot causing a lot of damage. The vet said we could put her on Prozac. Left the vet and stopped at the store and bought her a new collar.  When I tried to put the collar on her she growled then bit my hand. I am now so frightened of her that I am afraid to be in the same room. The only solution I see is to euthanize her. I would be afraid that she would bite another family if I gave her away!   Does anyone have any other ideas???


Phyllis DeGioia 
November 20, 2013

Hi Jennifer, I'm so sorry to hear of your troubles. Is it possible she is not feeling well and that there is a medical component to her behavior? If you have not done so, I recommend that you take your dog to the vet for a wellness check, explaining the behavior issues - after all, she is 12, and might not feel well. It is entirely possible that there is a physical issue causing her to bite. Also, what training have you provided? Have you spoken with a professional about these issues? I strongly urge you to do so before undertaking an unchangeable decision. Were there any other incidents within that two-year time frame? If there is no medical explanation, ask your vet and your friends for a recommendation of a good trainer or veterinary behaviorist who might be able to identify any triggers and allow you to keep your beloved dog. I wish you the best of luck with Maggie.


Jennifer Johnson 
November 19, 2013

I want to tell my story because I am having an extremely difficult time with the decision to euthanize my rescue dog, Maggie. Four years ago my husband and I adopted Maggie to keep her from going to a shelter after her owner's relinquished her because they did not want her any longer. She was 8 when we got her.  She is my baby, my husband and I do not have children.  Two years ago she go a hold of a tootsie pop and I told her no and to drop it, but when I reached for it she turned and bit my hand.  It was pretty bad but I just couldn't get rid of her.  Last night she was chewing on a rawhide and lying in front of the couch. I had to step over her to get up (she always lays there) I guess she thought I was trying to take her rawhide and she bit my foot.  She broke the skin and bruised my foot up pretty good. So now I know that I have to give her up. I keep randomly crying and the feeling of guilt is eating me up because I keep thinking if I hadn't put my foot there then things would be different.  She knows that she did something wrong and I am agonizing with the decision that my husband and I have made. This article and the accompanying comments have at least given me a little reassurance that I am not alone in my guilt and shame.


Susan Pece 
November 16, 2013

Your article and the comments of readers have helped me a great deal.  Sandy and Lucy were euthanized last night after they attacked our 8 yr old beagle.  We had them since they were 8 weeks old - a brother and sister.  They were the most beautiful and well behaved mini bassets until they were 3 and 1/2 when our home was broken into and my husband chased the robbers and fell and suffered bleeding in the brain out in the desert.  The male basset stayed with my husband and guarded him in 111 degree heat of Phoenix for hours.  Everything changed for our dogs and us on that day. We worked with them diligently to change the behavior and nothing seemed to work or last for any time. We retired to another country and our pets came with us.  The change of surrounding helped for a while but something happened when they were all playing together yesterday afternoon and they attacked. There were multiple events prior to yesterday but there seemed to be an explanation for each.  There was no explanation for yesterday.  Our beagle had surgery last night and we worry about his recovery.  Thank you for your article and the comments of readers.  There is some solace in knowing others have experienced this horror.  Please read the Rainbow Bridge: it will ease the pain, also.


Paul Kaiser 
November 8, 2013

I know it sucks but some dogs are broken. Not bent. My dad is an excellent dog trainer and we had a similar issue with a dog that just couldn't get right. We raised him from a baby and with our 2 other dogs he wouldn't constantly bite little kids. After awhile we were done with it. It does suck but some dogs aren't wired properly, just like humans. It's not your fault.


Wendy Smith Wilson, DVM 
October 28, 2013

Dear Leigh, I'm a veterinarian with VIN; I saw your note and would like to comment. I'm very sorry to hear that things have reached such a bad place with your Hershey. Before you take that final step, please allow me some questions. Have you talked to your veterinarian about Hershey's escalating behavior issues? I will tell you that while pack and dominance theory has been popular on television in recent years and is something we hear about a lot, it is definitely not the appropriate way to approach a dog who suffers from anxiety. If Hershey's transgressions seem to come from nowhere, I would theorize that perhaps there's a trigger or triggers for the behavior--that there is something in the environment (i.e. a human behavior, another animal's actions, etc.) that is disturbing Hershey and causing him to be anxious, but of which you are unaware. It can be the simplest of things--proximity to a food source, who's sitting next to whom on the couch, competition for attention, etc. It's really hard to figure that stuff out if you don't have some formal training and experience in pet behavior. If veterinarians can help owners identify and remove anxiety triggers, some dogs have a chance to "get better." I recommend that you consult a specialist in veterinary behavior. You can find the one closest to you at http://www.dacvb.org/resources/find/ ; I'm certain that a certified veterinary behaviorist could help determine if Hershey's problems are treatable. Obviously you'd have to take steps in the interim to prevent tragedy, such as making sure that Hershey is separated from your daughter and from other dogs. That would serve both to keep everyone out of harm's way and to reduce Hershey's stress and anxiety. You may find that it's not possible for Hershey to live a comfortable, happy life, but you want to be absolutely certain. Many dogs are so unhappy and stressed that it's a relief for everyone, including the dog, to allow them to move on. I just didn't want you to proceed without knowing that there may be more options you can look into before making that final decision.


Phyllis DeGioia 
October 28, 2013

I am so sorry for your loss. I also loved my dog very much.


BytheBeach 
October 26, 2013

Phyllis, thank you for taking the time to share your story. I am so sorry for your experience, but I agree that your decision was the right one.  When I found your story last night I couldn't sleep at 1:30 in the morning because I had our 1-yr old dog, wheaten mix, Luke, put down yesterday because he bit my 10 yr old niece and my son's 14 year old friend.  The first bite (my niece) did not break the skin; his front teeth mashed very hard into her forearm causing deep teeth marks, making a bruise.  While we were considering our options, he reoffended and bit my son's friend as my son and his friends came in the front door. My dog had met our dog on several occasions before.  Luke saw my son and his friends approaching the house and he went crazy.  When I tried to grab him by the collar, he went for my arm.  I couldn't get him under control before my son came in and Luke went for my son's friend, full-on attack mode.   I told myself never again will I hear a child scream in pain from my dog. Neither bite needed medical attention but when Luke bit my son's friend, he bit one of his fingers pretty bad, making a gash near the nail bed and also bit right through a sweatshirt, breaking the skin as well.  We bought Luke at a puppy store (first mistake) when he was almost 4 mos old.  He was the biggest dog in the store and we fell in love with him and just wanted to get him out of there.  When we brought him home he was very nippy, almost bristly ... couldn't get close to him because he would bit. I remember my 9-yr old crying because he just wanted to hug him and couldn't. We worked with him and the nipping lessened and did lots of research on how to stop the nipping and things faded. At 6 mos. we had him neutered immediately but he still continued to nip and remained dominant.  A couple of months ago, he started noticing squirrel and his prey instincts really kicked in .. this is when he became very territorial when people came to our home ... or if someone walked by our house with their dog.  He went apeshit, as they say.  If I tried to get him to calm down, he redirected and went for my arm.  He also loved to chew bones and if we approached him, he would make a very deep growl. Anyway, after witnessing him attack two children in my home, it brought on so much stress for me. Not only was I fearful when guests came over, I was afraid he could turn on my 3 children or me .. or cause us to get sued, etc. I did speak to many trainers, and they all told me that there couldn't be guarantee this behavior could be corrected.  They said that it could be 'managed' with crating the dog when people came over, possible muzzle use, etc. but with kids around the chances of a situation occurring would be greater. The other day my neighbor's mom came to my door and I had to be rude to her because my 9 yr old was with the dog who was getting out of control.  When I came back to Luke and my son, my son was sitting on the floor next to the dog, holding him. I realized Luke could have easily redirected his aggression toward my son's face ... but like the other two situations, things happen in the blink of an eye.  It took my husband about another week to realize the aggression was worsening and to agree that even if we had the best behaviorist/trainer, there would be no guarantee he wouldn't bite again ... hurting someone and possibly causing a legal nightmare for us.  I grew to love Luke ... he had a sweet smile and a childlike eagerness. My husband had a special bond with him and I knew he couldn't be there for the appointment so I took him alone.  It was one of the hardest things I have ever done and I'm crying as I type this ... but I did stay with him until the end and hold him to let him know I did love him. How hard to pay the ultimate loss for an animal you love .. but like many commenters said, seeing him attack those children broke my trust in him .. and he obviously couldn't be reasoned with.  We told our children that Luke went off to a boarding trainer but if the trainer doesn't see progress, she would find a home for Luke on a farm. We couldn't break their hearts.  I am so broken hearted and not even ready to think about getting another dog. I do feel guilt and shame but at least I know that I may have prevented someone from a disfiguring injury. He probably had another 12 years to live and after biting 2 people within less than two weeks, I think the likelihood of him reoffending was pretty high.  I hope by posting this, I'm able to help someone out there .. like Phyllis and all of the other posters helped me in the middle of the night .. thank you for making me realize I'm not alone.


Leigh 
October 23, 2013

Thank you for this article. I have come to the agonizing decision that we will have to put down our seven year old mix Hershey.  We rescued him as a puppy.  He is normally the sweetest dog, but there have been a few times that he has gone after my daughter for no reason.  He hasn't broken skin yet, but I am afraid he will soon. I thought that I was the problem and tried  all the pack-leader techniques but he has not gotten better.  He recently began to be aggressive towards other dogs. He plays just fine until someone comes to pet the other dog instead of him, then he starts barking and lunging.  We have another dog at home and he now growls and bares his teeth when we pet the other dog.  I thought training, and keeping an eye on him for signs would work.  But sometimes there is no warning.  We cannot responsibly keep on like this, and I keep telling myself he is not happy being this way.  He always looks so pitiful after he chases my daughter and I know he knows he's done wrong.  But I have to stop making excuses for him and do what is best for everyone.


Phyllis DeGioia 
October 24, 2013

Hi Morgan, Writing the article was quite difficult and took far longer than usual. The entire experience was one of the worst ones in my life. Although I usually have two dogs, I still have just one as I cannot yet bring myself even to think about another one. My dog was also very silly and happy when he was himself, and had the best sense of humor of any dog I've had the privilege to live with. I agree with your answer to what kind of person would put down an 8-month-old puppy: a responsible one who will not pass a problem on to someone else, or ignore it until something so awful happens that animal control steps in and orders the animal to be euthanized. It's the kind of situation where doing the right thing is incredibly painful, but so much better than having him seriously injure your daughter. I'm sorry you are still in such deep pain, but please remember that sometimes all the money and time in the world cannot solve the kind of aggression that comes from broken wiring. I wish you peace, Morgan. Please take care of yourself.


Morgan 
October 22, 2013

First, I am very sorry, but I couldn't finish reading this article. It hit entirely too close to home. That said, as far as I was able to read, this is an article I could not write myself. Nearly six months afterward, I have been unable to write about Cruiser at all. I have mostly stopped asking myself what kind of person puts down an eight-month-old puppy. I have managed to find a blunt answer: the kind of person who will take responsibility for the act rather than returning the dog to the shelter knowing they'll do it. I looked everywhere I could, given the financial resources available to me, and couldn't come up with a solution to my puppy's increasing aggression. Our vet told us it would only get worse, my sister reminded me of her experience, and a friend who has owned and worked with dogs for decades let me know that, even with intensive behavior modification training, he would never be entirely reliable. Given all that, I had to decide on euthanization. He was a silly, friendly puppy when he was himself, but scary when he wasn't. We could see him declining and that he knew that he was doing things he shouldn't do and didn't want to do. I decided that it had to be done before he lost himself entirely. Thank you for writing this article. It must have very difficult.


Phyllis DeGioia 
October 15, 2013

Dear Ms. Shaw, Thank you for your kind words. If I can be of any help with background information for your talk, let me know and we can talk privately.


Julie Shaw 
October 14, 2013

Thank you for a wonderful article and an often "taboo" and stigmatized subject.  I will be speaking on this subject at the Western Veterinary Conference "When love bites".


Phyllis DeGioia 
September 25, 2013

Dear Syra, I'm so sorry to hear about your lurcher, and I understand how it feels. I loved my dog deeply too, and as you know this is a pain unlike any other grief. It's unsettling because it's so unusual, and not what we normally feel about the loss of a dog who dies at an old age. It's quite compounded. Please take care of yourself tomorrow - I know it will be very difficult, and it's a good time to be kind to yourself.


Syra 
September 25, 2013

This article has really helped, tomorrow my beloved lurcher is to be put to sleep due to a 2 year battle of unprovoked aggression due to his previous owners. I have done everything and I cant have family or friends round due to his increased fear and possible biting, I am so heart broken and feel like I am a zombie and on auto pilot. I absolutely adore him and if the world consisted of myself and two other terriers he would be fine but sadly I cant provide a life like that. He is a total gem to myself and I love every bit of him, but the risks outweigh things sadly, I have had dog behaviourist in and followed the advice and support to sadly no change in his biting and fears. Thank for this article and I agree that some dogs due to whatever circumstances cant be modified. I'll miss my boy so much but I know he will find peace and be safe.


Phyllis DeGioia 
September 23, 2013

Dear Mr. Cornell, The best person to answer questions about your dog's behavior is a good certified trainer or behaviorist who specializes in aggression and can see the dog in person. It's best to have someone who can see the dog in his own environment and watch you interact with him; also, none of us here are trainers or behaviorists. Aggression of this severity - resulting in multiple gashes likely needing stitches - should be assessed by a professional trainer or behaviorist. You can ask your veterinarian for a referral today when you take the dog in. In the meantime, don't allow the dog to be loose around other people when they visit your home, for their safety as well as your legal liability. If you do end up turning him over to someone else, be certain it is only to someone who can work with an aggressive dog. Also, be sure to write down the concerning behavior so that they have notes. Be blatantly honest. I'm sorry you're experiencing this, and I wish you luck with the German Shepherd and your gashes.


Simon Cornell 
September 22, 2013

I realize this is a bit late so I might not get the feedback quickly. I was attacked my my dog last night. I am in a bit of a dilemma, I took in a stray to help my "overactive" Golden Retriever". I'm not an animal behaviorist but I know when an an animal has been abused. My main concern was how the dogs would interact, The GR and the stray(German Shepherd, possibly a mix)got along so well, my fears were alleviated. Cut to the chase, for the last few days the GS has been showing signs of aggression (growling at friends coming over, jumping on me and not backing down when I say no). I have never hit this dog nor even retaliated after the attack. I need some advice, should I put him down or turn the problem over to someone else.I'm not a girly man but I have some serious gashes in my head that probably require stitches nor am I afraid. We were playing and I put my head into him, not a head butt or an aggressive move but he went berserk. I will be talking to the Vet on Monday, but would like an input if possible. Thanks


Phyllis DeGioia 
September 16, 2013

Dear Heather, I am really sorry to hear about your dog.  While I omitted some of my original draft because it was too long, the dog trainer I mentioned who owns a training school also experienced feeling like a failure as a trainer; she'd had her dog since he was two months old. Unlike most of us, she has published a number of dog training books.  There is something about having a dog behave so irrationally that makes us feel like failures. Unlike you, I am not a good trainer, and in the middle of the night I wonder what would have happened if he'd been with an owner who was a better trainer, even though I know intellectually that the outcome would be the same.   Consider mentally ill people and all the treatment options we have to steer them towards improved mental health, and yet we cannot always achieve success with them. It is all the more frightening to contemplate aggression without warning or cause when the dog in question is a giant breed. I too held my dog in his last moments and told him over and over that I loved him.  He was extraordinarily happy in the car on the way there because I took an alternate route to the vet that he didn't recognize. It was extraordinarily painful then, and while the pain dulls a bit with time, it is still there, and I expect some of it always will be. But so is the relief that in the end he did not hurt anyone.


Heather Hamilton 
September 16, 2013

I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. I just experienced the same thing with a client's dog who I had co-owned. A 2 year old Merle Great Dane who was 'wired wrong'. He had severe neglect and malnutrition as a puppy, and then add being unsocialized on top of that. A family rescued him, and then I got a call. I worked with this dog for 8 months. He had something ... neurological wrong with him and would give no warning (I am a trainer and I can read canine behavior - there were no triggers or warning signs.) before he snapped and turned on the closest person. Sometimes the handler (being me or the family), or sometimes a random person whoever was closest. I loved this dog, and going through this made me feel like I had failed as a person, and as a trainer. But deep down, I know I didn't. I'm at the point now where I am making peace. This was months ago when we made this decision. I held him and let him go. I was there, and spent his last moments with him, telling him it wasn't his fault. Telling him he will be free soon and that we love him. I wouldn't trade those moments for the world.


Phyllis DeGioia 
September 10, 2013

Dr. Schueler, I am so sorry for the loss of your service JRT, and for the circumstances in which it happened. It’s such a magnified loss when the dog works as a service dog. It is simply a shame on so many levels; had you been told the truth about this dog's behavior, you would have been able to make an informed choice about her appropriateness for your home. Maybe with patience and the work of a good trainer or behaviorist experienced in aggression that her behavior will improve.  I wish you good luck with her.


Becky Stone 
September 10, 2013

Thank you for your insight and your courage.


Dr. Betty Schueler 
September 10, 2013

Sorry for the double comments but they speak to different issues. I want readers to know that many animals are chemically sensitive and can have seizures from exposure to certain chemicals commonly used around houses and homes. Carpet cleaning companies, pest-control companies, and lawn companies, especially, sometimes use chemicals that cause reactions in animals. I've had animals react to all three over the years; some died. I've also worked with dogs who survived Parvo and some of them are never quite right after that. Their neurological systems are compromised and their behavior can be erratic and unpredictable. But the one thing I've found, that seems to cause the most bites and attacks is musk perfume. Musk perfume comes from the anal glands of animals such as the civit cat. If you get close to an animal, wearing musk perfume, you run a huge risk of getting bit. Aging can also cause problems as dogs loose their sense of smell, hearing, and sight. It can make them over react to a situation because they can't adequately judge what is going on. I've also had dog go for me when I touched a painful spot, without realizing it. It is hard to see bruises on animals. Usually a dog will catch itself, before actually breaking skin, but it really depends on how much pain you cause. I once picked up a small dog, that was so bruised from a fall, that it screamed so loud I dropped it. He got my hand, before I released him, but it was obviously not an aggressive bite. So when you are dealing with any type of aggression issue it really helps to eliminate all the potential triggers that might cause the pet to bite or attack. Go over everything that has changed, in your household, in the past week. Some chemicals take longer, to cause a problem, than others. Was there emotional upheaval? Has the pet's food or treats changed? Did it get immunizations or any new medication? Act like a detective and try to find the culprit. Pet's don't usually go from good pets to bad pets without a reason. If you can't identify a trigger, and your pet passes a health check, then you may well have a pet that has a neurological, or emotional, deficit that can't be treated and euthanasia is your only option. By examining everything in your pet's internal and external environments, and not finding a trigger, you can at least know you did everything possible and euthanizing your pet won't be a knee-jerk reaction to a traumatic event.


Dr. Betty  Schueler
September 10, 2013

Thank you for writing this article, Phyllis. It is an issue I am dealing with right now. I adopted a 6-year-old, spayed female, whippet mix, and was told she was very gentle but the lady worked too many hours and her dog wasn't getting enough attention. My service dog desperately wanted a playmate, and the two get on great, but a couple of weeks ago she went after my JRT and, in the melee, ripped the JRT's eye and put a gash in her buddy's side. I called the previous owner, to see what was up, and she said that her dog never started a fight but would finish one. I was so angry that she hadn't told me this. She also hadn't told me her dog was resource aggressive, which is what started the fight. The damage to my JRT was so severe she had to be put down. There were extenuating circumstances, that night, that had the dogs all on edge. The family, living above us, was moving out and the kids were all screaming and crying which we hadn't experienced before. I think that is what triggered the attack but I can't be sure. Since then there have been no other incidents but I worry that she maybe a time bomb waiting to go off. I would never rehome this dog. If she leaves it will be to the vet. I'm going to continue to work with her but I have no qualms about putting a dog down that shows unprovoked aggression. There are too many wonderful, stable dogs being put down, everyday, that need homes.


Phyllis DeGioia 
September 6, 2013

Dear Kristen, I am so very sorry to hear of your situation. I hope that your daughter is recovering well (both physically and emotionally) and that things go peacefully tomorrow. It is a tremendously difficult decision to make, but if he has already attacked your daughter's face with such disastrous consequences you are forced to make a choice.  The legal liability alone is daunting, and I am sure that parents of any child bitten that badly would sue. I can assure you that from where I am sitting you are neither a bad parent nor a bad dog owner. The heartbreak is overwhelming. I cried for weeks afterwards, but never once doubted that I did the right thing. I cried with grief and sorrow, and with regret that he was wired incorrectly, but not with regret over my decision. The appointment tomorrow will be very difficult, and my heart goes with you.


Kristen Cain 
September 6, 2013

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. 2 weeks ago our 8 year old dog attacked our 5 year old daughter because she got close to her antler. My daughter required stitches between her eyes and on her upper lip which was almost ripped completely in half. I have struggled for the past 2 weeks about what to do. I am a volunteer dog handler at my local shelter so I feel I have a different perspective than the average person. I have attended special trainings in behavior and stress signals. I talked to my fellow volunteers, friends and family and was shocked by how different the opinions were. In the end I weighed the violence of the attack. the possibility it could happen again to my children or a child who visits my home and the behavior of our dog since we adopted her 6 years ago. I think I am making the right decision but the heartbreak is overwhelming. I feel like whatever decision I made I was either a bad parent or a bad dog owner. Maybe even both. This article has been so helpful and reassuring. Our appt is tomorrow and I was beginning to panic. Thank you!


Marty 
September 5 2013

Very insightful and heart-breaking article (and comments). I adopted a biter from a shelter 7 years ago.  She weighs 10 lbs.  I've always thought that if she were a bigger dog, I'd have to euthanize her.  I did work with a behaviorist. I believe she was kicked in her former home as she had a serious foot aggression.  Over the years, she has mellowed (now 15), but I never, ever let my guard down and do not let her around people she does not know.  She snapped at me in the beginning, but never once connected.  She no longer does that.  Does size matter here?


Pam 
September 2, 2013

I can't tell you how grateful I am for this article.  I am struggling with this situation right now and have been making excuses for my dogs behaviour for months.  We have taken him to a couple behaviorists and talked to our veterinarian and ultimately, when he came at me the other day - the one who loves him, feeds him, takes him for walks and plays with him - I finally realized that he is not just bent...he is broken.  It is now finally time to send him off to a better place.  To still his mind, stop his anxiety and take the stress off of everyone in our family.  He will always be loved.  Our memories of him will live forever.  But it is time - as the last writer put - to give him the gift of freedom.  Thank you again!


Taylor 
August 31, 2013

Less than 20% of dog owners attend any formal dog education programs (Purina) - I believe this statistic would be even smaller if we considered owners that seek out proactive education vs owners that reach out for help with behavioral issues - how many owners even achieve the reliability level of the Canine Good Citizen program in the education of their dog - seems it's our right, as humans, to learn by our mistakes; and the right of our companion animals to suffer through it - I believe brain injury accounts for a lot of these more extreme cases - in these cases time for healing (often 3 to 5 years) is more the issue than training - if we required potential pet owners to take courses prior to attaining a pet - if we charged $2500.00 for rescue dogs ($2000.00 going to help other rescues) - if we stopped the ridiculous use of our Court system to resolve dog bite cases and put those millions of dollars towards assisting dogs in need in true No Kill situations would this be a good start - finally it saddens me that dogs and their people are not getting the help they need in situations like these - experts in dog education seem to be few and far between - to owners struggling with aggressive behavior in their pets I ask what's wrong with a muzzle (its a safe start) - we humans are such an odd lot


Parallel 
August 30, 2013

I think it's important in these discussions to separate pets whose owners have worked with them and those who have not. I think far too many people never make a real attempt to deal with behavioral problems.  They ignore early warning signs, and continue to do nothing when the animal progresses to true aggression...until finally they finally reach some inner threshold of tolerance. So I don't agree with euthanizing an animal for showing aggression as a flat rule, because often that animal never had a chance to improve, and it was the owner's own behavior that created the problem. That is obviously not the case with the author here, but I bring it up because often the two categories end up lumped together, with the suggestion being that ALL aggression is abnormal and warrants euthanasia. Rather, I think the rule is that any aggression warrants INTERVENTION. When intervention fails, then euthanasia may indeed by the only route left. My own cat started out as a blind, feral kitten with aggression issues. Before owning him, I was very confident in my ability to deal with 'difficult' animals...hah! As soon as I realized I was in trouble I got professional help.  Eight years later he's still a brat, but no longer a dangerous one.  I think of The Cat from Hell on Animal Planet, and how many owners of these profoundly aggressive cats wait until the animal is three, four, or even ten before seeking help. And every time the owners are saying things must change NOW or they will euthanize...there's that threshold, where things are tolerable until quite suddenly they aren't, and I view that as very unfair to the animal. At the same time, there's no doubt in my mind that there are animals that truly are wired wrong, or who have been damaged past the point of healing. I knew a 2 year old golden who was the most dangerous animal I ever seen...you couldn't pet her without risking serious injury.  She was never abused, and her owners tried meds and sought professional help. Handling this dog to euthanize her took five techs.  It truly was the kindest thing for HER. She simply was not 'right' in her brain, and no amount of love or care could fix what was broken. And there are dogs who survived abuse, but are simply too damaged to be safe. But when you consider that such aggression is usually fear-based...can you imagine being so frightened that you're driven to lash out so violently?  Again, when intervention fails, euthanasia can be a kindness in those cases.  When an animal is so caught in anxiety and fear...freeing them can be nothing less than a gift.


Phyllis DeGioia 
August 27, 2013

Hi Betsy, Yes, he was a rescue who came to at the age of 4.5. I was told his history before I adopted him - one owner - but now wonder if the former owner was telling the truth. His biggest issue was going to the vet. I introduced a new dog almost two years ago and he loved her; they played well together every day (I called the nightly wrestling "the evening floor show") and never had a problem between them, at least not that I saw. The stairwell landing seemed to be a trigger for him, as that is where he bit me the first time and lunged at me the last time. The trainer gave us exercises to desensitize that area, which seemed to have helped until that last night, which was the only time I didn't startle him. Another dog trainer told me it may have been a type of resource guarding. Once he settled in here, he seemed happy for four years, and until then only seemed to have an issue with being startled. The animal communicator said he knew I loved him but that taking him to the vet was a punishment from me for being a bad dog. Thank you for writing.


Changstal 
August 27, 2013

Reading your article, I felt your pain and it brought back my own experience with an aggressive dog. I rescued Meera (a kuvasz/prys mix) when she was about six months old. She had severe resource guarding from being starved as a puppy. Given how hand shy she was, I was also certain she'd been hit. For about six months, she was fantastic. But as she turned about a year, she went from being great at the dog park to attacking in less than a week. I've had so much experience rehabing dogs, and I was so proud to have got her past her resource guarding. But I couldn't figure her trigger. I worked with a trainer, a behaviourist, and she got worse and worse. Finally she began growling and lunging at people, took down a jogger, and one day she came at me. She didn't bite me, but that was the last straw (he'd attacked my other dog for the first time ever earlier that week). I constantly made excuses, kept thinking that there was something else I could do, and that somehow this must have been my fault (not to mention other people kept saying these things to me). Finally, a very good friend whose also a psychiatrist, sat me down and said: you sound exactly like my patients in abusive relationships. I realised right then and there that this was no quality of life for her, for me, or for my other sweet pup. It was the worst decision I made. Being judged again over and over by others made it even more difficult. But I know to this day that I made the right choice. I thank you for be willing to write about this difficult subject.


Holly
August 26, 2013

I extend my deepest sympathy to the author and those who have been in such a difficult place. Sooner or later, any person who deals rescue will find at least one they cannot rehome safely. I wish this were not the case and there actually was a home for every dog, but many require special handling/housing/environment to be safe. They are not suitable for being part of the general public or placed in your average home. I have done rescue for a long time and have had some that came to me, too unsafe to rehome. One was simply heartbreaking, as I had known him as a young dog who was breath taking. I knew many of his puppies who were all sweet, kind dogs. However 6 years later, whatever happened to this dog in the time between when I first met him, and he came to live with me, something had changed him. He was fearful and would bite. After a year, he was better, but still not safe. I told every family member and friend, that if anything happened to me, he was to be euthanized. As it happened, he had 4 good years with two people he loved and trusted, before I had him euthed for other behavioral and physical issues. I still feel terrible for what happened to him. A wonderful dog who was treated badly enough, for long enough that it changed him from a loving, trusting individual into something less.


betsy glass
August 26, 2013

First, please know that my question comes from trying to better understand the situation from a "lessons learned" point of view -- may I ask if you knew Dodger's history before he came to live with you? -- would it be correct that he was a rescue and you were without benefit of knowing anything about him in that he came to you when he was 5 years old and that you had him for about four years -- wonder if we can know a dog's triggers from their past life -- certain movements, gestures or smell -- since a dog's most acute sense is smell -- that seems like it could be the most difficult to overcome -- unfortunately our expectations are that an animal should be able to understand us but we are without the ability to understand their language -- we are only able to communicate with them through observation as to potential triggers to bad behavior -- one of the biggest things in my experience has been the introduction of a new dog into a household -- in reading some of the comments -- one in particular was interesting and that was perhaps your home was not the right home for him -- hopefully on some level he knew you loved him but he could not get past his issues and able to integrate himself a good canine citizen -- based on your experience, it was understandable that you would not want to put someone else into harms way -- thanks for listening and your response to this inquiry --


Deb Alverson 
August 26, 2013

I'm sorry you had to go through this with your dog, Phyllis. It is heartbreaking even when you make the right decision. In reading some of the comments below I notice people talking about dogs with dog aggression and how they were PTS. There is no correlation between dog/small animal aggression and human aggression. One can be dealt with and tolerated and the other is totally unacceptable in any dog when unprovoked. Years ago I worked in a training kennel. A couple brought in their collie/shepard mix for aggression. Turns out that he was under socialized, had bit the wife multiple times, and they were trying to "fix" the dog. After he went after me with no warning (I still carry the scar on my hand today),they were advised to euthanize. He then went after another trainer while being bathed (no warning, just teeth). The couple took him home thinking they could control him. This is a dog that would attack the glass door between him and the person on the other side. After he bit someone again they finally made the right choice and euthanized.


Phyllis DeGioia 
August 26, 2013

Hi Jan, I suggest you bring in a professional trainer, someone who can look at the dog without the emotion or bias that we all have for dogs we care about. Snarling and snapping as a response to a correction seems excessive. It is responsible of you not to place him elsewhere, and I agree that's not an option, nor is breeding him. I too wondered if my dog had a brain tumor and meant to ask for a necropsy but was so shook up I forgot; he also was mostly a happy guy. Loss of vision can make fear worse, so I suspect his behavior will continue to worsen. Good luck with him -


Jan 
August 26, 2013

We have a dog that snarls and snaps at us if we try to correct him verbally (or with a water gun).  So far he has not made contact, although he's come close.  He doesn't like another of our dogs, and those two posture and growl anytime they're around one another.  The other dog is very submissive around us, and has never made an aggressive move towards us. Anyway... I have thought on several occasions that it might be best to euthanize the snarly boy.  This is difficult because for the most part he is a happy little dog, and seems healthy with the exception of failing eyesight.  The aggression began before the eye issue, but I believe it is escalating as his eyesight dims.  I have wondered if perhaps he has a brain tumor, but the only way to discover that is a $2000 MRI or a necropsy. I'm very torn, and really don't know what to do. We're not using him in our breeding program, yet he's not a candidate to be placed in a home other than our own because of these issues.   ANY input would be appreciated.  Thanks


Phyllis DeGioia 
August 26, 2013

Thank you. Passing the buck upsets me greatly if the dog's past behavior is not disclosed, and I suspect that's how my dog came to me. I don't know if we have lost the sensibility about when to call it; it's an individual scenario for everyone and it is an irreversible decision, but I do agree that we seem to be erring on the side of caution, sometimes with disastrous results.  I do think that people need to be absolutely certain that it is the right thing to do and that only after they have exhausted all other efforts with professional input


Nancy Tranzow 
August 25, 2013

What a well-thought out article and I thank you for writing it. We see aggression all too often in rescue and "passing the buck" is unfortunately just as common. It is a heartbreaking decision and one we have had to make in a dog who just could not make better choices. He had neuro damage and had lived a life that just damaged him beyond coming back. As we are a group that deals mostly in "Pit Bull" dogs, we feel an even greater responsibility to adopt out only the most mentally sound dogs. Raleigh was not OK and reacted with full force and ability to injure. He would not have been OK as a guard dog and in fact, it was only a matter of time and a mistake before he seriously injured someone, or worse. It was in the end, the right decision. I applaud the No Kill movement in many ways and enjoy that people look to address behavioral issues instead of jumping to euthanizing a dog but I have to often wonder as I look through pleas to take dogs who are clearly dangerous. Have we lost some sensibility about when to call it? Is the rise in dog bites we see because we now have a "euthanasia is completely out of the question" mentality? It is something I wish we would take a much harder look at and not be afraid to discuss respectfully. This article is one step closer and I thank you for it.


christina 
August 24 , 2013

I had to put down, Gumbo, my beautiful Catahoula Leopard Dog two years ago because of his aggression.  His nickname was Chompers due to his snappiness as a pup.  No amount of training or love would have ever changed his attitude however, and I was attacked and bitten by him in front of my 9 month old daughter.  I am so very thankful it wasn't her that was in his way that day...it could have been a much worse tragedy!   After deciding to euthanize (how could we surrender him to a rescue and take the chance of him biting another child, or anyone?), he bit me again at the vet's office while waiting for the inevitable.  Gumbo was definitely not wired correctly and I believe that last bite was his way of telling me I was doing the right thing.  My heart still aches when I think of him and I miss all the fun things he did that endeared him to me so!  Sometimes doing the right thing is the hardest thing, for sure!!  Now I am lucky to be the proud DogMommy of Pancho...a sweet mutt who was rescued by us shortly after we lost Gumbo.  I am grateful everyday for his gentle manner and unconditional love!


Sophie Cairns 
August 21, 2013

I had a foster who picked the only fight I've ever had in 50 years of rescue... he then went after me... I dodged it but then he went after my husband and ripped his face and arm.  I took him to the vet to be euthanized and the vet asked to do a necropsy... it turned out he had a brain tumor nearly the size of ping pong ball.  Sometimes you have to rule out a physical problem.... either way he could not have been adopted.  But he was loved and he left for the Bridge from loving arms.


Randi 
August 15, 2013

I have 2 dogs who were on the list for euthanasia due to aggression at the shelter. Both dogs are now happy and healthy loving members of my  family thanks to training and lots of love.   How ever, I would not  hesitate to euthanize if the aggression was not under control quickly or if I felt that I, family members or my other dogs were in danger.  Sometimes, there is no cure and no hope for a better life.


Vivian Stevenson 
August 15, 2013

Until you have worked with an aggressive dog who has no bite inhibition whatsoever, you have no idea the fear or stress it creates.  After working with him for several months, I could not offer this dog for adoption knowing that he could bite for no reason, no warning as well as having been bitten by him a few times. We also came to realize that this was a dog that someone deliberately abandoned rather than make a difficult decision leaving others unaware of his aggression. We made the very difficult choice of euthanizing him because it was ultimately in his best interest. Did it make his passing any easier? No. Did I and do I cry many times over him? Yes because it was such a waste of a beautiful dog who I can only describe as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, loving and caring one moment; then aggressive the next with no warning of the change. I so agree with this article and more people need to read and listen to this because it may not be you they hurt, but a child who would be forever scarred or worse. Thank you for writing so honestly about this.


Roxanne Allard 
August 15, 2013

Very sadly, I have to agree with the article. We rescued an older cocker spaniel who got along ell with all the other animals in the house. Suddenly, one night when I was taking dogs out, he appeared at the top of the stairs and just stood there. When I impatiently said come on, he just flew off the stairs at me. I managed to not get bitten. Second episode, he didn't want to go in his crate at night and lunged at me. Third episode, I was trying to get him to come in the house and he attacked. I couldn't get away and ended up being bitten in right hand and needing surgery. He had no medical illnesses that we could ascertain, blood work fine, nothing on physical exam. It hurt me to no end, but after discussing with his Doctor, we decided it was best for all to PTS. I can only imagine the emotional pain he must have felt during these episodes......


Sue 
August 15, 2013

I run a rescue and in 5 years have had to euthanize 4 dogs due to aggressive behavior (none were pit bulls either). When a dog is a danger to people, there is a problem. I love dogs and it was an awful decision each time, but in the end, after training and doing everything possible, it was the only decision that could be made to keep people safe. As far as there being a home for every dog, I do truly believe that there is that home for each dog if you can find it. I have to find anyone who will adopt and keep an aggressive dog.


Lori Sheppard 
August 15, 2013

I have always felt every dog with issues could be rehabilitated and I had been successful for over 40 years doing so... until I was unsuccessful with a dog we rescued. After a year of ruling out physical triggers and trying every training method out there, we decided that we could not allow our other rescues to be traumatized anymore. Had he been our only rescue, the painful decision to end his suffering would have been harder, even though we had been bit numerous times. I know now we did the right thing but it still hurts me after 10 years.


Izini 
August 14, 2013

EDITOR'S NOTE:  This comment has been modified in order to keep it in compliance with our comments policy.To Troy and Cathy, I'm sorry if this is rude but you don't know very much about dogs. Saying stuff like, "every dog has a home", just means you don't know dogs nor dog aggression. Even if it were true, which its obviously not, that you could find one person which this dog wouldn't be aggressive with. It is not practical thinking that one person would be the only person the dog would be in contact with for the rest of his life. How would you find out, how many people would get bit and how many times would this dog be re-homed. Its not fair to allow a dog that you know is dangerous to have the chance to harm again. You two haven't tried finding these homes for dogs because if you did you'd know they don't exist. I recommend you read this article http://dogsinthepark-suenestnature.blogspot.com/2013/04/wanted-childless-lesbian-couple-living.html Btw: guard dogs are the highest level of training that there is, they cannot be fearful or aggressive.


Phyllis DeGioia 
August 14, 2013

Dear Cathy, Thank you for writing. Even guard dogs need to interact with people to be fed, housed, and for medical care. Also, this solution overlooks the dog's mental comfort. If his fear or anxiety is such that he cannot be calm or comfortable in any circumstance - if he is mentally ill - this would lower his quality of life even further and increase the likelihood that the dog will injure someone he knows. I am uncomfortable with either of those potential outcomes.


Dr. Christy Corp-Minamiji 
July 14, 2013

As one of the writers of this blog (and the person responsible for posting the comments that come through), I just wanted to thank everyone for their thoughtful dialogue.  I know on a personal level how difficult a decision this was for Phyllis and the events that led to this point, and I wanted to express my appreciation for the level of respect shown by everyone whether they agree or not.  As a side note, though it isn't expressly stated in our comments policy, I will occasionally make minor edits for readability.  I will not change words, but I may correct obvious typos or capitalization in the interests of clarity.  Also, in keeping with the civil tone of this blog, posts written in all-caps will be converted to standard sentence case so as to avoid the appearance of "shouting." Thanks to all, and thanks for a wonderful dialogue.


Amy 
August 14, 2013

A year-old Aussie went after my feet once, tore skin, bruised me up badly. It was a herding breed and young, the owners excused it, and I always wore shoes around it from then on. Within the next three years, it bit three others, including their granddaughter's face. It was euthanized immediately. The owners had three other dogs of the same breed, including one from the same litter, all beautifully behaved, sweet, high-energy dogs, ranging in age from 15-the twin pups. They were loved, they lived on a 20-acre ranch and had outlets for their energy in herding horses, donkeys and goats, not to mention deer, elk and pheasants that wandered onto the property, and got to run to their hearts content. This was just one bad dog -- and it could not be trusted. It's never an easy decision, but as the first person that dog bit, I wish I'd been the last.


Cathy 
August 14, 2013

I agree with Troy every dog has a home.  Just got to fine the right one even if it’s being a guard dog somewhere.


Dr. M 
August 13, 2013

I have recommended to a few clients that they euthanize their aggressive dogs who have bitten them. One was a woman who's dog actually bit her as she was meeting him at the rescue. And she still adopted him. Every dog can bite, but I agree there are some dogs who are abnormal and will never be normal, and are a danger to anyone who comes into contact with them. There are a few people in this thread who have either never seen a truly dangerous dog, or are still deluded into thinking they all can be saved. Sadly, no one has agreed to euthanize as of yet. I am afraid it is going to take something truly horrible before these people see they are keeping a truly dangerous animal in their homes. Bravo for being brave.


Phyllis DeGioia 
August 13, 2013

Dear Troy, Thank you for writing. While I agree that not every pet will prefer its owner over other people, in this case the dog followed me around the house and didn't let me out of his sight. He was deeply attached, as is typical of his breed; English setters tend to dote on one person, and I live alone. Although he had snapped a few times over 4.5 years, he was a happy boy with a terrific sense of humor. His behavior began to change significantly this past winter. As for successfully rehoming some aggressive dogs, we will have to agree to disagree. While some can be rehomed - look at some of Michael Vick's dogs - I do not believe that's possible for every aggressive dog. I also think that a severely anxious dog has a low quality of life, and unless the dog has been abused or neglected, depending on the specific situation I feel it is sometimes unfair to ask such a dog to move to a new home and people. Thank you again for writing to share your view.


Kelly 
August 13, 2013

Phyllis, I've been there and my heart breaks for you. Thank you for sharing your story. My guy was a rescue, and I can only imagine the abuse he went through to turn out the way he did. But while I do believe humans made him that way, I couldn't let other people- especially children- suffer because his behavior was spiraling out of control. I had a responsibility to my children and to the people who walked in my door. Yes, I had a trainer. Yes, I will always feel like I could have done more.  Yes, I had the same thoughts about re-homing him and then having him hurt other people. Two years later, time has had a marginal impact on how I feel about him and the whole situation, just as it does other things in life. I know this sounds trite, but hang in there. It's the best I've got.


Rosemary G. 
August 13, 2013

In 2005, my terrier was attacked at a dog daycare center without warning and without provocation and was literally eviscerated -- his spleen and stomach were hanging out and his entire lower left side was torn out.  It is an absolute miracle that he survived.  It took me years to pay off the $9100 emergency vet bill, but at least he lived, and -- another miracle  -- did not become a fearful dog. The attacking dog was a lab mix from a rescue.  Little was known about its past, although it did display some serious anxiety issues prior to this. This dog subsequently attacked another small dog without warning and without provocation.  Fortunately, this time it was in the vet's waiting room and both animals were on leashes so they were quickly separate before the small dog was seriously damaged. The attacking dog was checked for thyroid and other problems.  The results were normal.  He was subsequently euthanized. I don't take my dogs to daycare anymore and we don't go to dog parks either.  I never want to experience anything like that again.


Kathy 
August 13, 2013

We had to make this difficult choice with a foster cocker spaniel.  He was a beautiful dog, black and tan, very flashy, very fast and a great retriever who loved his ball.  He was called Fluffy when he came into rescue, but Flash Gordon seemed more appropriate.  Flash is buried on our property with our own pets, but years later I still have mixed feelings about the decision we made.  Regret for what he could have been, anger at his former owners who were warned to work with him as a pup, but waited until he was two to panic and turn him into rescue and anger at myself for not being able to do more for him.  While this article is sad, it brings some comfort to know that maybe being with him at the end and willing to take the loss to keep others from being harmed was the best choice for all.


Melody 
August 13, 2013

Katie B., you utter the same exact words that I do, every day! And my disgust is from all the people in denial and put others at risk. There own learning curve is their responsibility but not at the expense of others


Phyllis DeGioia 
August 13, 2013

Dear Susan, Thank you for writing. To include all the details of what transpired is too much information for one blog post. After he bit me in March, we stopped going to a public dog park and for a couple of months went to a private, empty park that I rented for 45 minutes at a time.  At that point he seemed improved enough to return to a public park, which we did without any problems. My point in mentioning the dog park was that even as a sporting breed, and in particular one bred to run in field trials, he had sufficient exercise and lack of it was not contributory to his behavior issues.


Susan 
August 13, 2012

"Exercise was never lacking as we took him to an off leash dog park." And this woman wants me to think she has done some responsible????? This is why we NEVER go to dog parks...too many irresponsible, selfish people letting their aggressive problem dogs run loose.


Dawn Gilley 
August 12, 2013

My heart dog turned on me one night, he had been becoming more and more dog aggressive at the dogs shows. I just thought it was because he had been bred to a couple females. Sad to say we had a litter on the ground and they were a noisy bunch.. he went after a pup. So I stopped him, next thing I knew he had me by the arm shaking me. My daughter finally got him to let go. I got him in his crate, went to the hospital 10 sutures and many bite wounds later, I went home. Went to see him, he was out of it.. His pupils were either pinpoints or full blown.. the only thing I could do at this point was to quarintine him and have euthanized 10 days later.. yeah hospital reported it or I could have had my vet do it the next day.. it was the worst week of my life.. I still miss him to this day.


Troy 
August 12, 2013

The author of this article seemed to overlook one important aspect.  Not every dog will get along with every owner, just like we don't get along with every person we meet.  Imagine living with someone you couldn't stand; how long do you think you'd last before you wanted to push them down a flight of stairs?  A dog that might be loving and happy with one person or family can take an immediate disliking to someone else.  This article seems to imply that all dogs should be in perfect mental health at all times and accept everyone that it comes in to contact with, and that is completely unrealistic.  What was this owner doing that might have been provoking the dog?  We don't know the whole story, all we hear is "the dog was fine and I did nothing and he snapped".  Really?  Aggressive dogs do not need to be euthanized; they can be successfully re-homed provided care is taken in screening appropriate candidates.  Using euthanasia is a typical human response to alleviate oneself of the "burden" of having to actually work to give a troubled dog the life it deserves.


Dogcoach 
August 12, 2013

I recently stayed with someone who had a gordon who had the same problem.  The night before I moved in, he attacked her.  I have been studying animal behavior in dogs for 50 yrs and know that a dog that is 'right' mentally will never attack the person that feeds it. She couldn't put the dog down, which is very selfish on her part.  As the story came out, the dog had attacked people while on leash walks too.  After 6 wks on tiptoeing around, I was attacked by him.  Luckily I knew something was wrong and I was backing out of the room.  He got me on the back of the leg when I turned to run to get in the next room, but I had on loose clothing so it barely broke the skin.  I moved out two weeks later. This woman could not put the dog down for purely selfish reasons.  She was training him in competition and she didn't want to give all that up.  We all think we can 'handle' it but this is a mad dog.  There is no cure, no medication, no training that can help a dog that has a screw loose.  One problem I saw was that the vet, nor the vet's behaviorist would advise putting him down.  They act like they are afraid to advise something negative.  I understand that there is a possible correlation to epilepsy in some of these dogs.  The have a mini seizure and then attack because when they come back they feel vulnerable.  I knew something was wrong because he was laying on a bed chewing on a toy, then he looked like he kind of spaced out, and then he came after me.  Even my dogs knew to stay away.  When someone can't put the dog down then there are two crazies you are dealing with. Being dog aggressive is one thing, once they bite humans, I am done!


Sandra M 
August 12, 2013

A heart wrenching decision made by someone who truly loved her dog and had to make a difficult choice.  I am so sorry for your sadness but also applaud your courage.


Katie B 
August 12, 2013

I too have become increasingly intolerant of aggression in dogs. Mostly because of the huge pet overpopulation issue. Too many nice dogs and cats in this world that die for no reason to spend volumes of time, money, and (too often) ultimately heartache on an unsaveable animal when there are thousands in shelters that are in desperate need of a good home. I will do what I can to help, but in the end, if I can't help, then it's time to give the final release and start anew. Sounds harsh, but having been bitten one too many times, it's what I've come to believe,


Kirsten 
August 12, 2013

Some dogs are genetically bred to be ABLE to be human aggressive.. to anyone not their own family.  most of these are protection and guard dogs (like some of the livestock guard dogs, including my own Caucasian Ovcharka) these dogs require a knowledgeable owner, and good solid training and socialization...
(my girl is adored by the vet office, for instance) Human aggression to a *stranger* in these dogs is not a fault.  If you cannot deal with it, do not get that breed. Some breeds were bred to be NON human aggressive however aggressive to non humans they may be.
ANY human aggression that isn't directly provoked in such a breed is a severe breakdown in the animal, and must be treated exactly like a psychotic break.
its serious and alarming, and SHOULD NOT be excused. Sadly, breeders are more and more breeding for "style over substance" in the show ring (hence setters and spaniels getting more aggressive) and for actual aggression (like the poor dog fighting breeds, now being bred for increased aggression)


Mary Haight 
August 12, 2013

I agree, sending a dog to another home where there's potential for being seriously bit is a moral failing. This is a case where euthanasia should be used. A vet passed along a white Afghan Hound (an owner drop off and never returned) ended up attacking me, full on, knocking me over and biting me in the face, then hand as I got my bearings. It was a terrible shock. I was dazed for hours. I can only imagine how awful it was to have a dog a you have loved and nurtured turn on you. You are right, not all dogs can be saved. Thanks for writing this.


D. Smith 
August 12, 2013

Thanks for writing this and having a comment section so I could put this out there … A friend of mine's dog had issues that developed as he got older.  Apparently his bite record was slightly hidden to her by a housemate that in the big scheme of things was unfortunate. She worked with him knowing about the instances she knew about. I'd known him since he was a puppy could read him pretty well, or so I thought…  He was a big dog so a bite to the wrist got the hand too. One spot was pretty bad with a scar and deep bruising I still have more than eight weeks later.  The bite to the hand seemed to be a warning and then he started to come towards my upper body and face as I turned around and planned my escape. My friend called him he came to her... As the pain hit and I cried I also cried knowing I could never trust this dog again.
The problem with our state law is in this case if I’d gone to the Doctor and said it was a dog bite the dog would have been quarantined. His rabies was up to date and I treated this bite myself avoided the doctor and supported my friend in doing the right thing by him at her decision.  The reality was the most humane choice was to let him go and free him from whatever illness or demons was plaguing him that nothing could correct.  When I saw this dog's son the first time a couple weeks later my friend asked if I would be okay around him- I hadn’t thought about it and once it was asked I realized I became nervous when the dog made certain movements. Gosh I’m hoping this slight fear and anxiety fades…..


Lenore 
August 12, 2013

BTDT. There is a truth in this article that many will want to avoid, so I thank you for putting a difficult and uncomfortable reality out there for discussion. sometimes it is a kindness to the dog to free it from the stress of living in a world with which it can't cope. if after competent professional help (veterinary diagnostics and behavioral assessment) the prognosis is poor, safety must be the primary consideration. What is right is often hard. But it is still right.


David L. Gjestson 
August 12, 2013

A hard lesson and a great message from Phyllis. We all love our pets as if they are human, and killing them is very traumatic. Phyllis was not only courageous to do what had to be done, she wrote about it so others can deal better with that decision-making. Well done Phyllis!


Pat Lerch 
August 12, 2013

When I started reading the article, I felt that the author had acted too quickly in euthanizing her dog.  By the end, I was convinced that it really was the right thing to do, sad though it was.


Linda Rehkopf 
August 12, 2013

Oh Phyllis, I am so sad that you suffered, and continue to suffer. Please know that I KNOW you did right by Dodger. Ultimately, you Stood For The Dog, and that is the best we can do.



 
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