Euthanizing Aggressive Dogs: Sometimes It's the Best Choice

Some dogs aren't wired correctly, and no amount of training or medication can fix that

Revised: July 18, 2016
Published: August 12, 2013

Photo by Phyllis DeGioia

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.


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.


Two years after I euthanized Dodger, his behavior still affects my household. The cat he chased continues to live a life of stress-induced veterinary care. The stress didn't cause his physical issues, but it exacerbates them. His temperament is permanently altered, and not for the better.

Dickens was here first, and he gave "mellow and friendly" new meaning. The day they were allowed out loose together, Dodger bolted to him while barking in a frenzy. Dickens was screaming, I was screaming. Thankfully my long-haired cat walked out unharmed albeit wet all over from Dodger's saliva. The rescue person offered to take Dodger back, but I said no - a decision I have regretted more than once.

It's surprising to other people, but I still don't have a successor dog. I'm the type who usually finds a new companion within a month or so of losing one; I typically have a strong ability to move on. My friends and family expected me to have a new dog in no time. No one asks anymore if or when I'm going to get another one. If they did, the answer would be that I don't know: maybe tomorrow, maybe never again. Zita is happy. Dickens's whole world would disintegrate from stress.

Most importantly, I don't trust my ability to make a good choice because I made such a mistake last time. In the middle of the night, when fear rises like tendrils of smoke, I'm afraid I will choose another aggressive dog.

As for how I feel about Dodger, time makes it easier. When I see a photo of him, my heart still clenches - not as tightly as it did last year and far less than the year before. The unresolved grief is familar. My mother died the week I turned 15, and decades later I often miss noticing her birthday or the date of her death, even though it's so closely linked to my birthday. While I still miss her, I think of good times with her, and someday I will only think of Dodger's sense of humor.

I love my boy. I hope he rests in peace.


It's been a long time since I felt the stabbing, aching grief that accompanied my choice to euthanize my aggressive dog. Time heals most wounds, and in this case it has. My heart swells with more joy than I thought would be possible when I see a photo of him. I am now able to think about him without falling apart, without tears, without regrets, although I never forget that I have experienced this misery; it was one of the worst episodes of my life. I don't cry any more when I see other English setters, although I ask if I can pet them.

I still dream of his graceful running through acres of lush, green land, as though he was in low gear but contemplating a switch to high gear: his loping merely hinted at the speed he could pull out at any moment. He was bred to run races, and he loved running more than anything in the world, even me. I think of the day he took a dip in a silt pond and came out looking like a happy Creature of the Black Lagoon, or his good times with mud.

Those are the memories I enjoy now. When I think about the moment he bit my forearm three times in three seconds, and the six small puncture wounds he left, my stomach doesn't clench. I don't even have much of an emotional reaction to the thought of being lunged at prior to falling down half of a steep stairwell, which could have killed me. It's more along the lines of "Yeah, that was so horrible, one of the worst days of my life. Is there any more coffee?"

These days it's a tale of long ago, an anecdote of my past.

No successor has followed him, and another dog isn't even in the picture. My dog Zita remains happy as a pig in mud. My cat Dickens still suffers from stress-induced bouts of colitis (translation: diarrhea everywhere), the latest just two weeks ago when I had the audacity to come home reeking of a litter of kittens; Mr. Sensitive acted out, and about 24 hours later he had a raging fit of colitis. He likely has irritable bowel syndrome, caused by stress rather than inflammation, and I still think it's all related to how afraid Dickens was of Dodger, a beast four times his size with a penchant for bowling over cats. There will be no new pets for me while Dickens is alive. Plus, he runs up some interesting vet bills.

If it were not for Mr. Sensitive, I would be emotionally ready for another dog. It's just not meant to be at this time.

I'm good with that.

The best part is that I no longer feel like I can't trust myself to select another dog. When Dickens is no longer here, I will get another dog. Maybe it will be my usual rescue, maybe it will be a puppy for the first time.

That's the personal side. How I feel about the public side - this article - is different. I don't really know how to explain it. Even though writing about an experience is inevitably how I deal with life, the explosion of comments that still arrive weekly three years later is breathtaking and yet formidable. For a while the level of fresh grief it brought was difficult, a bit like salt on an open wound. But that's not the case now.

Today, it's the sameness of what commenters say that disconcerts me, and sometimes numbs me: "I didn't think he was actually aggressive until he ...;" "I was sure we could keep him confined when other people came over;" "I love this dog so much;" "I thought it was always a reaction to something I'd done;" and the worst: "He's bitten nine people, and twice someone had to go to the hospital, but I don't think he's that bad. He's really good most of the time." In a way, for those of us who love dogs that become aggressive, it seems to boil down to a deep love of a dog who behaves wonderfully the vast majority of the time, but sometimes has this problem and it seems to be getting worse.

The hardest part is when people couch the question if I think they should euthanize their dog. Here's my blanket response: each family is solely responsible for that decision. Listen to the advice of someone who has actually seen the dog: your veterinarian or your veterinary behaviorist (while there are no veterinary behaviorists in some geographic areas, in this scenario they are preferable).

As with a lot of things in veterinary medicine, what can be done, what should be done, and what is reasonable to do are moving targets and dependent on such factors as local resources, owner finances, family size/dynamic, size of dog, and frequency/degree of aggression.

For instance, compare the following:

  1. Young-adult, mid-size dog with sudden onset of one or two mild to moderately aggressive moves (growls, snaps, bit when food bowl was moved). Affluent, healthy, dog-experienced owners. No kids. Not much traffic in and out of the house.
  2. Adult giant breed dog (Akita, Cane Corso, etc.) with chronic, escalating aggression. Children and grandmother in the house. Owners have limited finances.
The 1948 staircase is steep: the steps are 7-inches high and 7.5-inches deep. I went up the stairs where he watched me from the landing. I was about half way up when he lunged at the left side of my face so I reflexively turned to the right and fell backwards, then twisted and hit the right side of my face on the opposite wall. I woke up about 15 minutes later with my head on the bottom shelf of the end table. Photo by Phyllis DeGioia

In scenario A, an extensive medical workup, medication trial, behavioral consults would all be reasonable and probably should happen. In scenario B, even if the owners scraped together the money, someone could get mauled or killed before any of those steps could kick in. All of us here are taking the road less traveled by being so open; in some cases, the only ones we're not honest with are ourselves. Traditionally, euthanizing aggressive dogs has been a topic avoided in public, as though you are so ashamed of your "inability to turn that dog around." As if. And yet if you talk to employees of a veterinary clinic, the folks who have to deal with aggressive dogs every day and have the scars that go with the danger of their job, they will often tell you that there are plenty of nice dogs out there who need a home, and why would you go through all that effort to keep an aggressive dog and walk on eggshells all the time?

When the veterinary technician said that to me, I caught my breath and thought what a terrible thing that was to say. Eventually I saw that she was right.

What's right for me may not be right for anyone else. The reasons to euthanize or not are a moving target, and little about this topic is clear cut. It's a topic constituting a hundred shades of grey and not much black and white. I believe that if your dog has inflicted enough physical damage to send someone to the ER, or has mauled or killed another dog, it's time to act definitively. But that's me. I'm more than lucky I didn't break my neck on that fall down the stairs after he lunged at my face, and it is sheer grace that I got up and walked away with only bruises and a limp to show for it.

My wish for every one of us is the love of a non-aggressive dog without any need for us to walk on eggshells. May that love be with us all, and if not with this dog, then another one.

(Editor's Note: Seven years after euthanizing Dodger, the author brought home another dog for the first time since then. See The Dog After the Grief.)


April 10, 2024

Thank you so much for writing this piece and the updates. We just euthanized our family dog because he bit my older mother on the forearm (required medical attention) and a few months later he attacked my sister, biting her on the thigh and forearm. We live in a multigenerational home with a 9-year-old. We couldn’t figure out a reason for the attacks and we consulted with our vet who believed rehoming him was irresponsible so we euthanized him. we’ve trained and raised other rescues with no issues… helped aggressive or nervous dogs and other animals feel safe and at home. Our euthanizing of our dog felt like a failing until I read your blog… and now I feel like it was the morally responsible thing to do.

January 31, 2024

Thank you so much for this. I read this today hurt & heartbroken facing a vet appointment in about an hour that will likely result in putting our beloved rescue dog of 5+ years to sleep. I am feeling all of the things you shared, and so much guilt, sorrow and anger, even though we have personally experienced the horror of a terrible dog attack.  My daughter was mauled by a neighbor's Bull Mastiff (who broke out of his yard down the street) 3.5 years ago and required 2 surgery teams and a 4 day hospital stay. The bites were extensive and scars will be lifelong. Her femoral artery was nicked, but not pierced. Her survival was literally by a thread (thank you Jesus) and she was saved by an true life Good Samaritan- another neighbor who jumped an 8 foot wall to save her, thinking he would die in the process. It was a nightmare. And our beloved dog comforted her in the days, weeks, and months to follow. He was her bud. Recently he has become increasingly aggressive and frightened us several times, even snapping at my daughter once when she tried to bathe him and put his mouth on my husband. We took precautions, worked with him and rationalized these scares because he is such a happy, loving dog 99.9% of the time. But just the other night, he suddenly got horribly aggressive completely unprovoked out of a resting position and bit my wrist. It was as if something came over him.  My daughter was between me and the dog, but thankfully got out of the way in time.  I feel betrayed, sad, and simply can't believe it happened. But it did. He lost control randomly and bit me. Despite all that we have been through, I am completely wrecked about the reality that we likely need to put this dog to sleep.  It just feels too horrible, but I cognitively understand that the risks to keeping him or rehoming him are also too horrible to imagine.  Thank you so much for sharing your journey. It helped me so much to read your experience.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

December 5, 2023

I’m so glad I found this thread. I had to make the terrible decision to put my beloved cat, Bernard, to sleep this time last week. He was honestly my best friend and I feel totally heart broken. I’ve been wracked with guilt but I couldn’t see him suffer anymore. I took him to the vet 9 times in 2 months all for blockages. They scanned him, gave him ultrasounds and blood tests. I also changed his diet, provided litter trays, ferimone diffusers and he was taking 5 different medications including a morphine based one and a sedative. When he started to present symptoms of blocking and was clearly distressed we decided this wasn’t fair on him anymore. I couldn’t see him suffer and there’s no cure besides an incredibly invasive surgery, that also doesn’t prevent UTIs from reoccurring.  So he would have more pain after.

 He was beautiful, glossy, soft, kind, chatty, loving and I’ll never forget him.

December 6, 2023

Thanks to everyone for sharing their stories. It has helped our own grief over our own boy.

November 18, 2023

We are euthanizing my dog in a few days, and I am gutted over it. I found this post while searching google for “euthanizing dog for aggression towards my son.” Intellectually I know I’m making the right choice for my children and probably for the dog, too. But in the here and now, even though our vet is fully supportive, it really feels like I’m heartlessly failing the dog I adopted and promised I would protect. Thank you for sharing your experience and helping me feel less like a monster.

November 15, 2023

My sweetest Tony is in the hospital right now. Tomorrow I'll know whether he will live or not. This guy is the sweetest cat and I'm so proud he chose me as his owner. He just strayed here and never left. He is everybody's friend but sleeps with me every night and really fixed my mental health when I was in a very dark place. I'm not religious but I'm asking the religious people who read this to please pray for him because I don't know what else I can do.

November 7, 2023

My cat Paco has had about 3 severe blockages, he was hospitalized for 2 weeks and put on opiates. $2500.. This was 2017, I’ve been using only prescribed food and we’ve been doing good since. Very expensive but he’s part of our family.

Phyllis DeGioia
December 27, 2022

Elizabeth, Thanks for sharing your experiences; I am sorry to hear you had so many. I completely agree with what you said: it's so sad when really sweet dogs are dealt this hand, and it's an incredibly difficult hand dealt to the owners as well. I'm sure Tally had the best possible calm home with you.

December 22, 2022

Ironically, it was an English Setter that I had to have euthanized purely for aggression. He was 2 yrs old, a rescued failed hunting dog and was the sweetest thing ever. Except he’d have these episodes that looked seizure like during which he’d lunge at the nearest person. Luckily, the one bite he landed was a relatively mild one on my my son’s face. This was was in the mid 80s and there were not a lot of options. Our vet said they’d have to put him on phenobarbital and board him for the rest of his life. It was tough. The 2 dogs that bit my fingers hard enough to leave puncture wounds were more complex yet easier to deal with. Bear the golden/Newfie mix was between 15-17 years of age. I’d had him 7 years and he was as a doll. But at the end of his life with poor vision and hearing, he started to snap eventually biting me. I cried for 3 days straight and then took him in. My son’s greyhound, Tally, had sleep aggression. I took him to my quieter household after he bit at my son’s more chaotic home- lots of kids coming and going. I had Tally for 3 years, managing his aggression pretty well except for the one episode when I startled him. He slept in the futon with me which
was fine as long as I madev sure he was awake before I moved. It was the one time I didn’t that he but my hand . However, it was actually Osteosarcoma that killed Tally. He died one week from the diagnosis and 1 hour BEFORE his vet appointment for euthanasia. Really sad when really sweet dogs are dealt this hand.

December 1, 2022

Thank you for this blog post. It helped with our decision to euthanise our boy. At no point did I ever think I’d end up owning an aggressive dog. We’d had three other dogs of the same breed prior to us bringing our boy home. We were confident in our abilities to raise a well adjusted happy dog. Unfortunately we were over confident and we had no idea what the next year would have in store for us. We saw our boy at 3 weeks old and instantly fell in love. This confident happy little boy that my youngest daughter had chosen. The breeder was of the back yard variety but seemed to love her dogs a lot and that’s what I focused on. Loving a dog and knowing how to raise a litter for the first 8 weeks are not the same. When we visited him again at 5 weeks old he was terrified of us. Kept hiding and even snapped and growled. It was concerning but I felt determined I could “fix” him and he was ours. My husband had huge reservations but I wouldn’t hear it. The breeder asked us to collect him at 7 weeks instead of 8 and we happily agreed. His first night in the house he bit my husband and not in a play full way. He spent his whole time hiding anywhere he could. He was terrified and he had separation anxiety already at 7 weeks old. He didn’t want to be left but he didn’t want us near him. The following morning my youngest went to stroke him and he snapped and snarled at her. He did the same to our older child that morning and continued to hide for days after we brought him home. Day one and I had to ask the kids to stay away from him. It all went down hill from there. At his 8 weeks vaccinations he went for the vet and he lectured us for about 5 minutes on how dangerous our dog was. How big he would be and how unsafe he is to be around our children. How his behaviour was not normal of an 8 week pup. We spoke to their behaviourist and managed to fix the growling and snapping at the children with in a few days but they still couldn’t run around with him and have fun with him. He was still scared. I spent hours educating myself on aggressive dog behaviour. Desperate to make this work. Picked up lots of new training techniques for our boy. We heavily socialised him in a controlled manner. We were having some sort of issue every week unfortunately but I got on top of it. With training and management. Things were improving so much. We took him everywhere with us and although I had to watch him like a hawk I was confident for the future. Puberty hit and everything we had done with him went out the window. We were struggling to manage him in the home and he had to be permanently separated from the kids and our older dog for their safety. He tried to bite my nephew on his cheek and then my youngest on the side of the head over very minor things. After that we no longer allowed him around the children. We stopped taking him everywhere for safety reasons and his world became smaller and smaller. He was huge and we couldn’t control him. He was always great with other dogs but now he was becoming so aggressive with every male he saw. We were out of our depth and we contacted the only breed specific rescue that would help us. They did an assessment and he was aggressive with the woman from the charity both times she visited. It was scary. He was such a big dog. This charity would take any dog but our boy wasn’t safe to be rehomed which we later found out. I would like to also add to be vigilant of rescues that say they will save every dog they have relinquished to them. Not every dog can be saved and some dogs it’s not safe to place them into other peoples homes. This particular rescue lied about us on his plea post and that broke me. They made us out to be inexperienced with the breed and that all his issues were because of us. This simply wasn’t true. We weren’t inexperienced and we tried so hard to help him. At this point I had spoken to another behaviourist who had said he wasn’t a family dog and we needed to find another home for him. That it wasn’t safe for our children even with the heavy management we had in place. Our boy was resource guarding terribly at this point. He would bite with very little warning and we were all scared of him to varying degrees. I became terrified of him at one point which didn’t help the situation. The rescue insisted we had him castrated which unfortunately was the undoing of him. Taking away his testosterone removed any confidence he had left and his fear aggression towards unknown people grew even more. He was terrified of life and highly stressed.  We had then added to that by removing his testosterone. The rescue continued to look for a new home with no children or other pets and we continued to make things work the best we could at home. A family member who had experience of owning a dog with similar issues showed interest in taking our boy. It was perfect. They were experienced with the breed and the issues he had plus no children. My husband packed up his van and departed on his 6 hour drive with our boy. We were all devastated. Despite how hard and exhausting it has all been we all loved him very much. Unfortunately that did not work out. My husband never left him and he spent the entire time attacking everyone in the home including my husband. He barely slept or ate all weekend as he was so stressed and my husband never left his side. We brought him back home as it wasn’t safe and we realised then just how serious this was. How bad his problems were. How terrified despite hours of training and socialising that he couldn’t cope with life outside of the bubble I had created to keep him and us safe. We couldn’t have people around the house. We couldn’t leave him for long as he was be so sad and howl. Nobody else could look after him ever. He could never live with anyone else. Our life had become all about managing our aggressive boy and the kids needs were being pushed to one side in my desperation to make this work. I was determined to make it work to my detriment. He had gone for my husband multiple times over the past year but they were always more warning bites. He would bite as he randomly guarded something that he hadn’t guarded before but retreat after the bite. Or he would bite if you stroked him or touched his harness. This happened multiple times over the past year. Random guarding followed by a bite. I could never trust him around the kids ever. No matter how much work I put in. I went away to see my ill mother and that’s when he attacked my husband. It wasn’t a warning this time like it had been so many times before. He bit mouth fully open on the back of my husbands leg and he went back again and again. My husband was scared. He was a big dog. It shook us all up. We knew his aggression and anxiety was getting worse. The management we put in place was contributing to that but we had no choice otherwise something truly terrible would happen. He then became aggressive with me for cleaning the walls in his room whilst he was in his crate. This had never happened before. He always watched me but this time he was annoyed with me. If he hadn’t been in his crate he would of bitten me for sure. We had to make the call. Something we had spoken about at length for the past few months but could never bring ourselves to do. He was becoming more and more miserable with the management we had in place to protect us and himself. We were becoming more and more wary. Life just stressed him out. We played with him, he was walked every day with out fail for 2 hours, he had unlimited toys and chews. We built our world around him right from the start. Desperately trying to make this work but we couldn’t carry on anymore. We knew he was going to seriously hurt someone no matter how much we tried to prevent it. We knew in those circumstances he would be ripped away from us and destroyed. He would of been alone and scared and that broke my heart. So we took him in instead yesterday and made sure he was heavily sedated so he wasn’t scared and we stayed with him every step of the way. I’m broken today. The guilt and despite how hard and exhausting it’s been we miss him terribly. The house feels so empty and quiet now he’s gone. We betrayed his trust. We took his life for the safety of others and to stop him being dragged off only to have the same end result but in much harsher circumstances. When he wasn’t scared and aggressive he was such a sweetheart. He had the funniest little personality. He would talk to me so much and the greetings when I came home were the best ever. He loved playing fetch and would always try to have two balls in his mouth. We had moments where he would relax enough to be with us and just let us see him. The long walks were not the issue, the boisterous puppy type behaviour wasn’t the issue. The issue was the biting with no growl or warning 95% of the time. The issue was randomly guarding skirting boards, spaces and cupboards which were mood dependent. Tiny things would push him over the edge. He was not a confident or well adjusted boy. He was ill I know this but I’ll never get over him dying. I’ll never forgive myself for the fact I couldn’t save him no matter how hard I tried. I’ve gone from we made the right choice to telling myself what a monster I am over and over. How I betrayed him. He wasn’t ready to go. Yesterday was a long drawn out end due to the amount of sedation he needed. Not every dog can be saved or fixed. His problems were so big and so unpredictable I’ve basically spent the last year fighting a losing battle. To those reading this thinking how could you. I would never do that. When you’ve had a big dog in your home that is aggressive and you’ve walked a mile in our shoes I’m happy to talk to you but if you haven’t experienced living in fear of something you love or the stress of trying to keep everyone safe with no outside help possible you have no clue how difficult it is. Most of us who make this decision do not do so easily by any stretch of the imagination the guilt is something else. It’s now the morning after and the emptiness I feel. The pain I feel is unbearable. I miss him so much. My house is so quiet. I can’t bare to look in his room.  I’m broken and I’m devastated. I’m so sorry my boy. If love could of saved you, this never would of happened. I love you forever my boy and you’ll always be missed. 

Phyllis DeGioia
November 29, 2022

Dear Lee-Ann, Oh my word, what a story. I am incredibly grateful your sister was not killed, blinded, and still loves dogs, which just beggars the imagination. I cannot imagine what you felt like at 8 years of age, nor fathom the response this event had in all of your lives, but particularly that of your sister and you. I'd be surprised if it was not *the* most traumatic event of both of your lives. I would add to poor breeding that a possibly bigger cause of aggression is poor socialization as puppies. If they do not experience enough of the world at a certain age, they do not become confident dogs and are forever timid and fearful - and fear leads to aggression. As a vet tech, I'm sure you've seen your share of vets and other staff who get bitten at work; many people have changed careers as a result, but that's not very feasible for vets with a significant educational debt. You were certainly the perfect person to work with clients who had aggressive dogs, and I'm sure those clients are grateful for your support. My best to you and your brave sister, who still loves dogs.

Lee-Ann Rydeen
November 28, 2022

I’m always a Little surprised when I read stories with the biting dog theme, that the clenching of my stomach and the sweaty brow starts up almost immediately….. I’m 61 now, but along time ago I was an 8 year old girl, who adored her little sister, a darling little curly haired chubby 1&1/2 year old.  She was doted on by family and everyone who lived in our neighborhood. One sunny day I was giving her wagon rides down the hilly street a couple houses away from ours.  Of course there were no brakes, so turning the wagon into our neighbors driveway across the street which had a slight incline to it, slowed us down.  The two kids thst lived there were out playing on the street, as were the dozen or so other kids on our culdesac. In the 60’s and 70’s, kids all played outside( usually till dark!) .  When the wagon stopped, my little sister clumsily climbed out of the wagon, I must’ve turned my head for a moment to talk about how fast it felt we were going to another kid, but it was a second or two that made all the difference in the world.  I turned my head back to check on my sister, she always stuck close by.  But there she was, toddling precariously over to the neighbors dog, a kind of beagle mix I think. Not too big, maybe 25ish pounds. Small to medium size.  This particular dog usually was in their house, we never saw much of it, never bothered to ask why…. All of the other kids’ dogs ran around with us on our street, playing with each other and the kids… nobody had fenced in yards back then!!  I watched as my little sister bent forward at the waist to pet this dog, and in horror saw this dog in the same moment as my sister reached down, he leapt up and seized the left side of her face in his jaws.  He took her to the ground and kept snapping and snarling and ripping at her face…. I ran over to her, I guess someone must have gotten the dog off of her…and by this time she had stood up and was crying.  She was reaching her little arms out to me, in request to pick her up.  I just froze, it was like my legs had turned to chunks of wood.  I couldn’t move…. I saw her face, she was covered in blood, blood pouring down the front of her pink smocked dress.  Kids were screaming hysterically at the top of their lungs, scared, sickened, horrified.  I was just repulsed by her wounds, it was so terrifying to see your baby sister like that.  I kept turning to go get my mom, then as my sister cried harder for me when I was walking away, I’d turn around and go back to her, intent on picking her up.  Then I’d see her, and I just, COULDNT bring myself to pick her up.  I think I was feeling it was my fault, and I really didn’t want to get a real close look at that face… back and forth I went, a few steps towards home, calling my moms name, then a few steps back to Dawn, trying to comfort her from the fringe…. Probably one of the most traumatic events of my life.  It took years to recover.  I actually don’t even think I’ve healed fully.  The blame I heaped on myself, the guilt I felt every time I looked at that bandaged and then heavily  scarred face, i withered inside.  I didn’t protect her that day, was all that came to mind.  I was my own whipping boy. Dawn spent several hours in emergency that day and evening, then in surgery to stitch her back up.  Every doctor she saw was astounded at her luck ; “ She just missed losing her eye, by a hairs width” one exclaimed. She went on to have to have several more plastic surgeries over the next several years to deal with keloid scar tissue and trying to minimize the scars cosmetically.  Each surgery was hard on her, healing took such a long time….  To this day, if she gets overheated, her scar turns bright pink and red, and I slip right back to thst day in 1969….. Aggressive dogs have such an impact on even more than the recipient of the bite.  The mental trauma thst  occurred that day was extensive and far reaching.. the neighbor kids who saw it, the other parents who came running to help, my parents, me, even the doctors and nurses having to put this sweet but terrified and screaming toddlers face back together. My dad waited I think an extraordinarily patient  2 days.  No apology came forth. The dog still meandered around their driveway…. I don’t know what my dad said , but he went over there after two days to speak to the neighbors.  The dog was euthanized the next day. Why people keep dogs like this, I don’t know.  Hoping it was a one time thing?  How do you live in such a precarious way? Holding your breath, just waiting….. This dog had seized my sisters entire eye socket, and his bite went deep, and flesh tore.  If he had instead locked onto her throat, who knows if she would still be here. Both my sister and I, oddly enough, continued to be the biggest animal lovers in our home of four kids.  She’s always had a dog, till this day.  I followed my heart and worked as a vet tech for over 25 years, probably would still be doing it but I herniated discs in my back and had to give it up, sadly.  But during my time working,  I counseled a number of clients, struggling with this very issue.  Like you, I guided them through medical testing, behavioural therapy with the best trainers, and so on, the works.  I think some of them were very grateful when that dreaded end came, and I was there not only to hold them up in their time  of grief, but also reassure them, that having gone through the worst case scenario, they were indeed making the right choice and doing the right thing.  Euthanasia brings up a LOT of questioning in one’s heart and mind, and people often wrestle with the issue of are they playing god.  I like to remind people how lucky we are to have this available to us, so our pets do not have to suffer.  Because what can you do with a dog who refuses to stop biting? It gets either strictly and I think cruelly confined to a minimal area in the home, never able to fully enjoy the life of a dog as it should be.  Or it goes to the pound, is adopted out, then what?  It gets beaten if it bites someone, kicked to death or thrown back in the pound, where the cycle continues.  Some people will just drive their dog out to some desolate country lane and throw the dog out of the car to survive on its own ( which it won’t for long)..  During the recession of the 80’s, when people couldn’t afford to even feed their pets anymore, it would be almost a daily occurrence when I got to work as the first employee to arrive, and there’s be a dog tied to our door handle or a taped up box of kittens nudges up under our front windows.  People don’t want to feel guilty for what may happen to their pet, or that they have failed them in some way.  Thankfully people have become more educated, aware and responsible for these little lives. One last thought: I could honestly estimate that  at least half of all the pets that are mentally disfunctional, with bad temperament, behavioural issues and problems, unstable, untrainable, whatever you want to call it, are a result of poor and or ignorant breeding.  Not knowing the dam and sires lineage, pet store puppies…..ESPECIALLY PET STORE PUPPIES!  They are all at huge risk.  And believe this for a fact: EVERY  pet store puppy has come from a puppy mill.  EVERY ONE.  There is not a good breeder of dogs the world over that would EVER allow their puppies to be sold in a pet store. Guaranteed.  So when purchasing a dog, do your research.  Don’t be an impulse buyer.  Don’t think you are “saving” that puppy. All you are doing is giving the puppy mill more money to stay viable and produce more inferior stock. You’re giving the pet store space to house one more poorly bred, thoughtlessly produced puppy.  There’s so much more to say on that subject but for now, I’ll shut up! Thank you again for your brave telling of your story, and I hope upon hope that it helps prevent senseless dog bites in the future.  Kind regards.

November 13, 2022

Thank you for writing this article. We decided to put our bulldog down tomorrow and I was looking for something to reassure me I’m making the right decision. Although, I’ve gone back and forth so many times on this. Since we got Penny at 8 weeks old she was always a good ball, but not long after we got her she would attack our older dog if he was sitting with me on the couch. That stopped but then she became afraid of the door bell and anyone knocking at the door. She would run to the door barking and then turn around and attack my older dog. It got to the point where we turned the doorbell off and if we did have a knock we would have to quickly grab her or try and block her. She’s also afraid of other dogs and once when she was approached by a dog off leash she turned around and attacked my older dog and when I went to get her off of him she bit my arm really hard and I bruised quite badly.  She also has been known to lunge at people while out walking, even kids.  My own children are afraid of her at times because she’s chased them and tried to bite them. Unfortunately my older dog has gotten the worst of it. He’s been attacked too many times to count with little to no warning. If she thinks food has dropped and he’s after it she will attack him. Or if he comes to close while she is eating a treat - she will attack him so we’ve stopped treats. She’s escaped once while we were bringing in groceries and she went after a neighbours dog and attacked. I’m heartbroken and wondering what did I do wrong ? Could I have exercised her more ? Tried more medications ? Managed it better ?  I look at how we’ve managed it and have realized the stress we are under trying too manage it. My kids can’t have friends over for fear of the dog biting someone. We don’t have people over because of the same reason and we don’t take her many places. She’s lashed out at the vets and tried to lunge at them.  And she’s powerful and can almost pull me over while walking. Tomorrow she will leave us and after everything Ive just written my heart aches and wishes we didn’t have to do this. The article that you wrote has given me a bit of peace in my decision so thank you for that.

November12, 2022

Reading your story has helped me so much. I’m in so much grieve over euthanizing my four year old Doberman. We adopted him when he was one years old and he bit us in the beginning. We hired a trainer and work with him constantly. When he was sweet he was so great, but out of nowhere would turn and bite us. He also went after my other two dogs. We kept making excuses for the bad behavior. We moved to another state and the house was smaller, so that was the excuse. Yet I walked him constantly and took him to day care a couple times a week. He finally bit me bad that I had to have 16 stitches. I wanted to put him down then, but my husband refused. He said we will get another trainer and we did. I thought things were getting better, but he bit my husband 3 times. He wasn’t doing what the trainer said to do, so I thought that was the problem. Then just days ago he went after me again. Every time there is no warning, no growling. He just attacks. My husband finally agreed with me that we need to euthanize him. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I’m still traumatized by it, but I know I had to. I have scars and puncture wounds all over my body. I’m so lucky he never killed my little dog. I do miss his sweet side so much. I know I did everything I could with my sweet boy Kenny and will miss him so much.

October 27, 2022

I never thought I would find comfort and peace from an online forum. I have a blue heeler/collie mix. She is 6 years old and ever since I've gotten her I've dealt with aggression. I tried everything during her puppy years and maybe not the best techniques but for some reason she was always afraid of strangers and people and cannot be around kids. She is great with other dogs and animals though. For the last six years she has been the most loyal companion and my best friend. In our home she is sweet, loyal, has never bit me or my husband and would do anything for us but she has a bite list of ten, composing of mainly friends but also some strangers. Her aggression is unpredictable which is the reason we have finally decided to put her down. My husband and I have tried to mitigate the issue but it's so emotionally draining. Every second I'm worried a child may approach her wrong, that someone might get just to close and even friends that come over who knows when she will turn and bite them. She's bit our friends unprovoked and drew blood, bit child at the beach and has bit multiple strangers at dog parks despite them doing  nothing. Thankfully no legal consequences but at this point it isn't a matter of if but when. This is the hardest decision I've ever had to make and to read and see I'm not alone in my grief and guilt is something I needed. People love to judge this situation without being in it. My girl is so sweet but only to me and my husband. Both our lives and hers are severely limited because of her aggression and after another biting incident it's finally time. It's hard to put down a dog that loves you, that is still young and healthy but she's dangerous and not predictable in any situation that isn't in our own home with just my husband and I. Definitely the hardest thing I've ever done.

Phyllis DeGioia
October 6, 2022

Hi Chelsea, I'm so sorry you are experiencing all of this. All I can say is you are pregnant, you've seen 10 bites in 3 years - two requiring stitches - and he's bitten both of his owners without provocation, and you know he would attack any delivery person or friend so you have a significant legal and financial liability on your hands. You've worked with the available trainers on a remote island and his aggression has not improved. I say all of this not to sound harsh, but because it looks less gray when stated by someone else.  It would be ideal if someone who understood his aggression could take him, but there are so few people who could truly handle him. Of course no one really believes it unless they see the aggression for themselves, but you have seen it and felt it. No one doubts your love for him -  I loved Dodger, too. I ask you to envision his unpredictability around your baby. There are some actions that cannot be undone, but only prevented. My heart is with you. Good luck with your pregnancy!

Chelsea Rice
October 6, 2022

I can't belive I'm back reading this again.  Our husky/Rottweiler mix who we got from a rescue 3 years ago bit me again.  He has bitten 5 people a total of 10 times, two very severe requiring stitches, all 10 bad enough to break skin.  Like all the dogs I read about he is wonderful 99% of the time, but his constant food aggression and intermittent aggression over other random events has just gotten too bad.  He wants to kill post workers, and when he is called away from the fence/door whatever, his aggression turns on us, his owners.  We know that he would maul the poor delivery person if somehow he got outside at the wrong moment.  We've worked with trainers, and have a very strict and consistent feeding routine that until yesterday kept us safe and kept his dominion limited to his food bowl.  He was sitting waiting for me to tell him to go eat, just like we do 2x a day everyday, and he went for my ankle.  I am a weird person who's worked and lived in a lot of dangerous high stress situations, so like I have before when he has bitten me I completely froze amd assessed what was going on.  I told him "leave it", "drop it", "no", all calmly but to no avail.  He was just clamped on my ankle.  I knew he would shake and continue biting if I tried to pull him off, which is what happened to a friend who was bitten while dog sitting a few years ago.  I could only get him to let go by opening the sliding door and letting him go to his food, which is just awful.  I blatantly rewarded him for biting by giving him his way.  I'm 8 months pregnant with our first baby, and I just couldn't risk the bite being worse.  We know we can't give him away, we know we can't keep him with a baby on the way.  We'd hoped to keep him outside most of the time as there is a perfect enclosed alcove off our back deck so he'd always beable to be warm and out of weather with out being a threat, but we've realized that we don't have the control over his behavior we thought we did, and having our own baby on the way made us realize that even with our best efforts, we've been endangering others by keeping him.  I don't know how I'm going to do it, to euthanize him.  He looks like a silly panda or some wolf dog wearing a tuxedo.  He is so goofy and sweet 99% of the time.  He is pretty well behaved aside from the obvious.  He's never chewed a shoe, never had an accident in the house, and only barks at delivery people.  He's never acted scary to a guest in our home, granted we warn people not to go near his food bowl, and not to play with toys with him.  When he plays he knows how to be very gentle, even with his mouth.  He's never accidentally played to rough and hurt anyone.  If we possibly could We'd keep him or try another trainer or something, but we live on a remote island in Alaska and there are no dog behaviorists or serious trainers here, and even if there were, we would not keep him in our home, but perhaps could split or cover the cost for someone who understand show dangerous he is but doesn't have children.  He can charm the pants off anyone, so we know that someone would take him from us, but we just can't trust anyone to take him seriously.  People always seem to think we are exaggerating or we must abuse him or something, but he came to us like this.  His first bad bite was the 2nd day we had him over a bone, then a week later while we were hand feeding him.  He literally bit the hand that feeds him; growled with his muzzle in my palm, knocked the food out of my hand, then bit my other arm.  I'd not moved a muscle.  He did the same to my fiance.  I just dotn know how I can put him down, but I think we have to.

Phyllis DeGioia
October 6, 2022

Martha, I am so sorry to hear of all of this, and I cannot fathom your pain or your son's. All I can say is that there is no answer to "Why?" We don't really know what happens or why as there are so many possible factors, including breeding and life experiences. With all my heart I hope that your son will find another dog, soon, who will be a perfect match for him. It can a long time to be ready for another dog, or no time at all - it's completely individual. My heart is with your family.

Martha Cote
October 6, 2022

Thank you for your truly honest and real heartfelt writing of your experience. My older son his whole life wanted a dog. His very own, unfortunately with 2 boys and a demanding husband, and my own health struggles. And my personal fear of being attacked as a little girl. I was just too busy trying to do everything that goes with being a homemaker. Fast forward he is now 39 years old and 2 years ago took in a abused hearding , collie mix named Jax who was beautiful but very hyper, unpredictable, dog who nipped fingers and heels. So we new that he did not have the resources needed for training, veterinary care and space, also on going struggles of his own. My husband, his father tried to talk him out of it and he completely understood why my son that is. I on the other hand being his mom could see how much he loved Jax and wanted desperately to take him from the jerk that he was with living in a crate. It’s extremely difficult to write this but it’s the only way I can make sense of this tragedy because my heart is so broken. And my son is completely gut wrenching suffering right first I was very reluctant to get to know Jax and afraid for him to come here but as a mom I knew how much it meant for my son. We would theather him outside with us we have our own yard so he had freedom however he barked constantly and aggressively non stop. And absolutely showed strong aggression towards everyone walking near us and our neighbors it was very very difficult I didn’t want all of this and more to deal with. Each time my son would visit of course Jax would be with him. So I had to make a decision deny my son or except and expect this disruption for us here. And I did. Unknown to me how much I would connect and come to LOVE Jax completely and at the same time terrified me because my husband and my self deep down inside knew this could not be possible. He needed training from the start. And the resources were just too expensive.. we couldn’t help ourselves we have a mortgage to pay each month. Forward to the present we would be inside of course now last year during the winter and would have to each time, child proof our home, however though each time became habit and Jax loved being here with all of us. The connection with Jax and me became stronger for me with PTSD and the abuse that Jax earlier suffered we just clicked he became a therapy dog for me and I strongly felt a therapy for Jax. It was unbelievable and unexpected and instinctively I felt one day a tragedy, so he became more and more aggressive with my son at home and walking after a while was impossible for my son due to the aggressive behavior and the strength it would take my son to control the situation. He also attacked and mauled my son’s hand, being stitched and my son now for the first time becoming a little afraid of Jax and shocked. 2 more attacks would happen involving the police and attacking a neighborhood dog and that dog biting his owner who needed stitches. All along though our love for him grew and his love for all of us. I would make him home made food and treats that he could eat and always knew when my son who. Want to go to nana’s house. I really can’t believe I’m able to write about this, what happened. This past Monday evening Jax attacked my son unprovoked and quickly. Mauled his stomach and thigh and forearm and would not stop my son fearing for his life was able to get to his bedroom but was unable to get his arm in and that’s when the most damage was done and his cries to Jax to stop and the unbearable pain. A neighbor hearing this called the police. Now this was the 2 police report and the 3 time animal control officer was called in and his son being in his room at the time. Told my son that Jax would have to be put down or child and family services would get involved and if Jax stayed in his home and he called again for the same reason that because this was the 3 time. They would not show up and he be on his own. He knew in his heart this could not happen again and his heart was so broken from betrayal he agreed to put him down. Carried Jax to the animal control vehicle. I really can’t go further other then the pain my son is suffering and I lost my therapy buddy and why did it have to end so tragically and suddenly with out ever being able to say goodbye

August 25, 2022

I have a 7.5-month-old Great Pyrenees mix, Java, who I love more than anything, but he has been behaviorally declining despite my best efforts. He is so young and there’s the possibility that further training and medications could help, but my veterinary behaviorist has recommended behavioral euthanasia, saying that his quality of life and risk to myself and others is not good, and I am at my emotional limit for how much I am living in fear of my dog and living walking on eggshells. I’ve reached out to my trainer and the rescue for further opinions. It’s breaking my heart to have to debate BE for a dog this young. Please as you read this, please please believe me that it is NOT PUPPY BITING. Multiple professionals have confirmed that Java’s actions are genuine aggression stemming from anxiety and low frustration tolerance. JAVA'S ORIGINS: I adopted Java 4.5 months ago in April. Java was raised with his mom and 7 litter mates until 3 months old. He was raised in overcrowded rescue conditions, and likely had little human interaction until I adopted him. I was not allowed to meet Java before adopting and was told he would be a "25-lbs dachshund mix, like his mom." One DNA test later showed that both of Java's parents were very large Great Pyr mixes. I had wanted a small dog to take with me to my first apartment someday and we don’t have the fence for a large dog, but I already loved Java and didn't want to return him to an overcrowded rescue that wasn’t transparent with adopters. LIVING ENVIRONMENT: I am a graduate student and the primary owner of Java. I live with my parents. I'm gone 3-4 hrs/day during school, and worked part-time from home all summer, so I am constantly with Java. None of us have owned a dog before. We live in a suburb on a half-acre of land with no fence, our yard separated from neighbors by a few feet of trees/shrubs. There are many young children living around us. We have 2 cats that he is permanently separated from as he has too high of a prey drive and chased them several times when he was younger. BEHAVIORAL ISSUES: For a little over a month, he was a normal puppy (other than anxious appeasement behaviors that I didn't yet know how to recognize) and was the star pupil of his puppy class. He walked well on a leash, was crate trained, super easy to potty train. He loved the beach, bike path, and other mini adventures. Reactivity: At just under 5-months-old, he started developing intense anxiety and aggressive behaviors. He became a fiercely territorial barker, pulled to go home on walks, froze in fear if he saw/heard a person/dog. Growls at joggers. We stopped walks for a while but he behaved so much worse when limited to only backyard walks, so now we do an early morning walk in the woods behind the house and a very late evening neighborhood walk. He still runs home if he hears any neighbor talking or hears the distant echo of highway noise in the woods. In his own yard, he is no more relaxed. Barks and growls at any sign of human life. He became fearful of children running and screaming next door despite having been exposed to this since we got him, with no negative interactions. Over time, he has worsened to lunging and growling at the sight of a calm child standing far away. Barrier Frustration: Any form of arousal on the leash (tangled, frustration, playing with a toy, going at a jogging pace, stepping on a thorn) leads to him redirecting at me by lunging, growling, snapping, biting, and muzzle punching. Inside the house, his reactivity is worse than outside. The slightest bird chirping, car door slamming, or any other sound of human/animal life sends him barking and lunging at the windows. Today I approached the window to see what he was barking at and he redirected at me, growling and slightly lunging. We can't open windows, blocked his access to front-facing windows, and have a white noise machine running almost 24/7. Body Handling: No one can grab his collar, take his collar on/off or he will immediately bite. If grabbed or restrained by the harness, he will snap/bite after 10 seconds. Most of his bites are from taking the harness on/off. Now that a trainer has showed me how to get it on/off, I'm the only person who can do this without getting bit 95% of the time. I haven’t left my house for more than 4 hours since I got him as no one else can safely watch him or take him to the bathroom. Bathtime is a nightmare. Nail clipping wasn't working, so he is learning to use a scratch board. I am the only person he shows genuine affection towards. Towards everyone else, strangers and family members alike, he shows anxious appeasement behaviors that come off as friendly, but if pet he will start jumping/nipping/chasing after 30 seconds. Lately, the nipping has looked more like genuine snaps and bites. He compulsively approaches everyone he sees to offer appeasement behaviors and nips if ignored. He has to be separated from my parents with a baby gate while they are home or the appeasement and nipping behaviors will not stop. He is still showing entirely anxious body language when around my parents, even though he has lived with them too these past 4.5 months. Resource Guarding: Java aggressively resource guards bully sticks, high value treats, resting spots, people's laps, digging spots, rugs/furniture he is chewing, vomit, stolen objects, and sticks from humans (especially if he is on a leash) by growling, snapping, or biting. He shows stress signs like hard stares and eating faster when humans are near his kibble and water. With training, he no longer guards kibble and water from me, but still shows stress signs towards anyone else near his stuff. If he smells cooking meat, wet cat or dog food, or sees a stuffed Kong in someone’s hand, he cannot be touched or he will snap/bite. Outside, he resource guards by immediately swallowing anything he finds to keep it from me and has had many trips to the vet because of this. He is currently being conditioned to a muzzle for scavengers. Over the past month, he has started resource guarding water, toys, and people from other dogs on dog playdates. He is otherwise dog friendly (except towards small dogs) but we have essentially had to stop dog playdates. BITE HISTORY SUMMARY: Dunbar lvl 1: Snapping mostly at me, far more times than I can count. Dunbar lvl 2: Three to four dozen times. Almost all towards me for body handling and resource guarding. Lately leaving more bruises. Dunbar lvl 3: Broken skin (no blood) 3x for resource guarding. Once with multiple bites. MEDICAL ISSUES: Chronic GI/diarrhea issues since we got him. With supplements and diet changes it has improved slightly. His general vet and veterinary behaviorist think that the stomach sensitivity will lessen by one year old, but will be a chronic reoccurring issue throughout his life and worsened by swallowing everything he finds due to scavenging/resource guarding. His bouts of stomach issues worsen his anxiety and reactivity. His training backslides every time he has an upset stomach. TRAINING EFFORTS: Since day 1, I have only used positive reinforcement as I do not believe in aversive methods. I have been working with a certified positive trainer/behavior consultant for 3 months. I have learned how to read his body language and manage him better, but Java's anxiety and reactivity have only worsened despite D & CC work. He has all of the attention and daily enrichment from me that you can think of. The other members of the household are unwilling to participate in training. MEDICAL INTERVENTIONS: I have been working with a Veterinary Behaviorist for 2 months. Java has been on increasing doses of Prozac and Gabapentin. The medications have greatly reduced his separation anxiety, but have had minimal effects on his reactivity. It hasn't been that long but we have not yet found a dose that lowers Java's anxiety to a trainable level. There is another med we could try but it may or may not make a difference. WHERE WE ARE NOW: Over the past few weeks especially, Java’s behaviors have worsened. Just taking him out to the bathroom in the backyard, he growls and lunges to try and burst through the hedges towards the kids next door so much that I can barely grip the leash as he’s getting bigger. I could wait and see if more training and medication changes improve his behavior, but in the meantime I truly believe he is a dropped leash away from attacking the neighborhood children. It would be different if we could fence in our yard but we can’t, and this is a risk I don’t think I can live with. The final straw that broke me was two days ago. Outside on a potty break, he stepped forward over his leash to snap at an annoying fly so that the leash accidentally went under his leg. I was still as he walked forward, felt the slight tug of the tangled leash, and he was so alarmed by the gentle unexpected tug that he lunged at me. He muzzle punched me 3 times then bit hard enough to bruise my arm. He has been examined multiple times and has no painful to the touch areas on his body. He had absolutely no body language warning signs, impulse control, or thought to the behavior before he attacked me. He had redirected at me from being tangled or frustrated on the leash many times before, but nothing so slight in annoyance as this. This is not a dog I will ever be able to trust. I will never feel safe around this dog. The other members of my household are 100% done and want him out of the house. After that incident, I still love him but am so fearful of him that it is taking all of my will power to force myself to stay in the same room as him to care for him as I am the only person who can semi-safely handle him. I love my puppy and want to give him more time on this Earth and chances at training, but I am constantly scared of my and others’ safety. He can’t stay in my house and he is too dangerous to rehome. I contacted the only reputable aggressive dog sanctuary I could find near me and they were too full. I’m hoping when my trainer and the rescue get back to me they will have other options, but I don’t think they will. I don’t know how I’m going to make this choice.

Phyllis DeGioia
August 9, 2022

Eleanor, You are *far* from alone. Sadly, this problem is fairly common. I feel terrible for both you and Jaxon: what a frightened life to lead if he was too terrified for you to pick off something stuck to his coat. From my perspective, you did not "give up" - far from it. You went above and beyond, and I am so grateful that Jaxon had you in his life instead of someone who was less willing to work with him. You know that there was absolutely nothing else you could have done except suffer being bitten. Please read this article I wrote years ago for the VIN News Service: It will give you a different perspective, one that may help you not feel like a failure. You are NOT a failure to Jaxon. Some things are simply beyond our control.

Eleanor Macciocchi
August 9, 2022

On April 20th I took my dog Jaxon to the vet for the very last time. He was a month shy of four years old. Jaxon bit me 3 times…each time was worse than before. The last time requiring several stitches. I loved him though…I love him SO much and he loved me. It wasn’t his fault. No more than my being depressed and anxious is my fault. I tried everything with him; training… three different ones, medication. Again several types. Nothing worked…nothing would fix my sweet pup. I couldn’t brush him, clip his nails, bathe him, change his collar. Of something was stuck to his fur O couldn’t pick it off.  He had to be put completely under anytime I had to take him to the vet,  I couldn’t take him to a groomer; the vet tech had to shave him down ( while being completely under) I started realizing that this was no life for him or for myself. Each time he was put under anesthesia he seemed to come out of it worse than he was before. I started calling shelters, rescues, trainers; anyone I could think of. I was hoping and praying that one of them would say to me “I’ll take him in and work with him” Instead I got “I don’t think there’s any hope” or “you need to do what’s best for you and him” or  “I don’t think anyone can help him” My head was spinning out of control; how could there be no help. How could no one fox him?! Am I really sitting her right now and entertaining the thought of euthanizing my Jaxon?? The decision haunts me every single day. Not a day goes by where I don’t look at his photo and break down crying. I stumbled on your article by complete accident….or maybe not. Maybe I was suppose to find this entire thread and read it and understand that I’m not alone. I certainly felt alone. I felt like I giving up on my pup. I felt like a failure. There were tears rolling down my face when I read your story and there are tears rolling down my face as I write this. I’m still very sad and scarred by my decision. But I know now that I’m not alone. Thank you.

Phyllis DeGioia
August 3, 2022

Hi Julie, I have high hopes that a behaviorist can help you and Murphy. It's possible that some environmental changes, perhaps along with medication, will help him remain the loving dog you know. If it's possible, having the behaviorist meet Murphy at your house is best. Euthanizing is, obviously, the end-stage option and should only be undertaken when you feel that there is no other choice. For me, that occurred when I became afraid of my dog, but I presume it's different for each individual. I hope that you can avoid it.  My heart is with you.

July 27, 2022

Thank you for this. I got our Springer Spaniel  Murphy when he was 8 weeks old.He was neutered at 6 months and is socialised and well trained -  He is the cleverest most loving dog I have ever owned. He isn’t great with other dogs - I need to keep him at home and he regularly flattens our tiny cocker spaniel and snarls terrifyingly as he does it. He is 8 years old now and in the last few months he has started snarling at us ( the family) and going for us, hitting us hard with his snout ( though he hasn’t actually bitten us). I am mortified! I was mauled by a dog as a child and am petrified if a dog shows any aggression but this is my beautiful Murphy and I don’t know what to do! I have seen the vet today and there isn’t any obvious physical ailment. I will consult a behaviourist. I am heartbroken that my faithful, loving soul dog has turned into a threat to us. I feel like I am just waiting for him to draw blood and then he will need to be euthanized- but who’s blood will be drawn and how much blood will it be? I am tortured.

July 23, 2022

Thank you for your story and for everyone that has shared one. We made the hardest decision a few days ago to put our 10 year old Lab/Border Collie down. It has broken our hearts and the guilt is horrible. He always had some aggression in him but we only saw it 1% of the time the other 99% he was the best protector and playful dog. He was super smart  and energetic. He just did so many smart things. He loved us so much and we loved him. As the kids came home from college and he got older we had to turn our house upside down for him. I watched him 24/7 like a hawk. If I even heard him barking outside I would go to see what he was barking at. Making sure no one was coming in our yard. We knew what to do and what not to do and we put him up when people came over. We thought we had it all under control. Then a few days ago my husband who  the dog   loved dearly was cleaning his paws and he latched on to my husbands forearm. It was horrible because  it wasn’t just a warning it was a bad bite. My husband was in disbelief. The dog that we thought would never bite me or him did. Now the dog had bitten others but we always had an excuse and could explain it. We loved him so much we would rationalize the different situation.s over the years. This however was beyond sad, how could he bite his master? The ones that he laid in bed with, played outside with, that spoiled him and loved him so much?  We had talked to our vet before about him and we just could never go through with putting him down. It would just break our hearts.  They would say it’s only going to get worse with age but we didn’t want to hear it.  He was so unpredictable. This dog meant the world to us!  It was awful putting him down and we both can’t sleep at night because we are just heartbroken.  It helps to hear other people talk about the same issues. We know we didn’t have a choice for the safety of our family but we feel so guilty and miss him so much that we can’t bare to be at home.  I hope time will heal this pain, we feel like we  let him down.

July 15, 2022

I happened upon your story this morning. Today we are putting down our loved dog. I have had many pets over the years but none who loved me like Wally. My heart is broken but I know I am doing the right thing. He is an unpredictable biter and even with medication and behavioral training it won’t go away. Your story and updates was what I needed to read at just the right time. God bless you for sharing your experience with me. It has given me the strength to do the right thing and let my anxious buddy go

Janet M. Johnson
July 14, 2022

I’m currently laying with my rescue, my sons best friend, knowing that I’ve made the decision to have him put to sleep. After rescuing him 4 years ago, he was approx a year old and was neutered. Never imagined he would turn aggressive. He now has 3 bites. One bite causing 11 stitches to the hand. All close friends or family. I’ve made excuse after excuse for him but I’ve realized he cannot be trusted. My son is 17 and this dog has carried us through some dark times over the last few years. I in a sense feel like I have failed him. My son is going to be devastated, angry and lost without his best bud.  I can’t help but worry if he will turn on one of us. I feel so much sorrow for the damages and pain he has already caused. It sad and so hard to understand how a dog so loving and loyal can turn so quickly. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers over the next few days. This is one of the hardest decisions as a mother I have had to make, but I know it is the ultimate decision that has to be made. Praying for everyone who has had to experience this turmoil.

July 13, 2022

Your story helps me more than you know. I am two months out from having to euthanize my aggressive dog. He was my k9 soulmate and i live everyday with the grief and regret from having to make that decision. I am having such a hard time moving on and coming to terms with the horrific but necessary decision my husband and I had to make. It's a decision so many people will never understand and I am envious of their ignorance when it comes to this subject. Thank you for sharing and being honest. Your story shows me that I still have a long way to go on this journey of healing but that it is not impossible. Sometimes we have to make those unbearably hard decisions. thank you for sharing your story.

Angela Rotman
July 7, 2022

I'm sitting with my rescue, she's looking up at me so sweetly. We just got off the phone with the vet to make this appointment. She attacked our pom chi right before Xmas so we got her in training and on meds and she still gets so crazy when she sees a strange dog. She bit my wife yesterday, it was automatic. My wife's hand is OK but what about our other pets? Or guests? I was feeling like an entire bag of shit and I came across this article. Thank you very much.

Thank you
July 4, 2022

Thank you for your honesty. We have recently gone through a similar experience with our beautiful boy. The decision to euthanise is not a light one, especially when you love your dog unconditionally. At the same time, protecting safety and family needs to be balanced. Like you, it will take me a long time to come to terms with it all. My tears and love for my man will flow probably for my lifetime. It takes courage to do the right thing by you and them, and may they always feel loved in doggy heaven.

June 26, 2022

This morning as I watched the vet staple my dog back together after she was attacked by our foster boy I spoke to the rescue I foster for and they made this decision for me. I have fostered and rehabbed so many dogs over the years and used to train working dogs, I was his last chance saloon. This boy had been in kennels for a year as nobody else could manage him in foster care, you could tell he had been malnourised and beaten in his past life but he so wanted to please and love you, he just had no boundaries. We tried everything we knew to solve his desperation around food but today after a good obedience session he just went nuts over a biscuit reward, my husband now has to have surgery on his hand, two of my other dogs are badly injured and this poor damaged boy is being euthanaised tomorrow. I feel so so guilty even though I know that I gave him his last two months of life running free in the sunshine on a big property with the other dogs, lots of high quality food and a warm bed inside at night; but he was so screwed up from whatever happened to him before that he couldn't be fixed and he was actually getting less stable as time went by.  This article has made me realise that it is not all my fault and failure, that mentally he has probably been suffering terribly, so thank you everyone, and lets hope he comes back as a new pup and has a better chance next time because his big brown eyes are going to haunt me for a long long time. I'm so sorry Joey.

June 24, 2022

We rescued my dog Pepe 7 years ago from being euthanized for his aggressive behavior, we worked tirelessly with a behavioral trainer and at the time it was just my wife and I and we managed to get Pepe to a real good spot. In those 7 years we had a baby, he has been good with her, but over the past year or so his aggressive behavior has returned and he attacked our cat and fractured his skull a month or so ago. And then this weekend he bit my wife, first time he has shown human aggression to someone in our home. So, with a 4 year old in the house and his behavior degrading, I had to make a very hard choice to euthanize him. However, I found it peaceful, knowing that he got to live 7 extra years and that he lived a life where he was very much loved. We had a great day today, and in the end, he took his last breath laying next to me, knowing he was loved. It was a hard decision, but I know it was the right one. Thank you for this article and sharing your experience.

June 18, 2022

It's been 5 months since I put Squirtie down and I still cry daily.

June 3, 2022

Thank you…you have no idea how much your article has helped me right in this moment. We’ve made the decision today to take our beautiful boy in tomorrow morning to be put to sleep. I’ve been sitting here thinking that I should cancel it, that I’m a horrible person but then I look at the damage my dog has done in the past and most recently the damage he has done to our other dog by bitting her throat and I know we are making the right decision. We’ve spoke to behaviourists that have advised due to his age and his history they aren’t able to assist and rescues can’t take him on. I’ve been looking for something to make me feel like what I’m doing is right, and although I know no matter what this is always going to feel horrible, reading your article gives me a little bit of comfort. So thank you.

May 30, 2022

My husband and I are greatly struggling with the choice to put down both of our beloved dogs. Both of our dogs got out while we were out of town and our lab killed a small dog. I know the other dog was aggressive towards 2 other dogs but they only had minor scrapes. We have already made the decision to put down the lab because we no longer trust her. The hard part is what do we do with our other dog. She has never done anything like this before and has never been aggressive towards people.

May 22, 2022

Today my young dog mauled my other dog for the 3rd time in 8 weeks. Each incident requiring emergency vet care, this incident being the worst. I can’t get in with a vet behaviorist for another 2 months and I cannot let this happen again. Rehoming is fruitless so far and I won’t dump him at a shelter. Rescues are full. Trainers won’t touch him. I too have an old cat with IBS  that would appreciate living out her days without fear of being torn apart. It’s an unimaginable decision and worse than any nightmare I’ve ever had. Thanks for your article and the updates. If I’m having to make this choice now, maybe I can at least provide a home for a safe dog once I’ve grieved and the cat passes.

Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM
May 23,2022

Hi Robert, the sudden behavioral changes you're describing led several of the veterinarians here, including myself to wonder if maybe there is a medical problem going on with your dog.  Sometimes, it may be necessary to work with the veterinarian to get a dose of sedative you can give him before the visit  just to get him checked out without anyone including him getting hurt.  Hoping you're able to get some answers and some healing for both of you.

Robert Wilson
May 20, 2022

Wow, that was an emotional read, and Dodger was very lucky to have such a loving and caring human!! I am in a terrible situiation with my best mate, a 31/2 yr old Jack Russell cross who I have had from 12 weeks. He has suddenly started to be aggressive, to such an extent that the vets cannot properly examine him. He has also, (Noticed today) showing signs of serious fluid retention in his legs. His ears lay back, his tail droops, and he looks so sad. If I try to pet him he often attacks and has bitten me multiple times in the last week and a half. He always looks devastated following an attack, and it seems as though he is vacant from his actions.....its so totally out pf character! I have struggled to excercise him even, since tjhis started, as he will not allow me to remove his leash, when we return home. Clearly it is unsafe for him to move atround indoors trailing a leash, so things are becoming unmanageable, and I feel as though I am neglecting him in a way. He still plays ball with me, and has absolutely maniacal bouts of hyper affection approximately once a day. When this occurs he literally gets as close as he possibly can to me, being so soppy and friendly, its almost as thoiugh he is saying sorry, or even goodbye.... He is my only companion, and has been by my side since I split with the ex, and moved from home with her and my kids, to live alone, with just Dog Dylan. I dont know how I can get him seen at a vets today, as he will not allow them to examine him, and I cannot force him when he is in aggression mode. I cant stand the thought of putting him to sleep, but I cant see how we can manage the alternative medical intrrusions....

May 19, 2022

Thank you for this heartfelt article. I'm coming closer to making this decision for my cocker spaniel. Following a seizure, his behavior changed and aggression began.  I have been bitten twice, both unprovoked, even after 2 years of working with a behaviorist and giving him meds. I don't know when it will happen next, but it will. I can't trust him nor walk him in the neighborhood. I fear for anyone who comes in contact with him and my other pets. I do feel that I've failed him and am not sure how I'll deal with the guilt.  Reading your article has made me understand what I need to do. I hope I have the courage.  Thank you.

Penny Sienkiewicz
May 11, 2022

I just found this article. We are in this terrible position now.  We adopted Harley in the fall of 2020. He lived on 100 acres in SC since he was 8 months old until one day his owners put him on a transport up north. The next day he moved in with us.  We were told he was always happy and friendly, he liked cats, and the only reason they were giving him up was because he wouldn’t stay on his 100 acres and the husband was tired of driving all over to pick him up.  He was never allowed in the house, but he loved people. He’s now 8 years old. From the very beginning, he barked continuously and was becoming more and more frustrated so the vet put him on some medication.  It helped  but we had to keep increasing the dosage. We took him for at least four long walks every day to the point where we were hobbling along on sore knees while he just got more excited.  The trainer thought he was great and would adjust fine since most do she said.  After about two months, things changed.  He started guarding toys and food.  Sometimes growling, sometimes snapping (without contact). We didn’t want it to escalate so our vet referred us to a veterinary behaviorist who said he had been a “pumpkin” in the beginning but now his true personality was coming out as the shock was wearing off.  We’ve worked with her for over a year now.  He’s on several medications but he is not too sedated.  He loves my husband and lights up when he sees him.  They roll around on the floor playing or  snuggling  together every day.  But, then he will later lunge/snap at him sometimes not more than 30 minutes later. He is also very irritable at night. Things we used to easily do can no longer be done.   We’ve not been able to remove his harness for over a year now and we used to clip his nails but not any longer.  We’ve managed the toy/food guarding issue but then he started guarding the sink/dishwasher area.  During meal prep, he places himself directly where you need to be.  If I sit down, he’ll eventually go in his crate and I can continue.  My husband refuses to do that so he wound up  with Harley barking, lunging, and snapping at him.  He always was afraid of storms but that has intensified since the summer.  We now have the windows blocked so he can’t see things blowing around, music playing, a podcast playing, a fan on, etc to block the sounds of wind and rain.  Thunder is still an issue.  He actually likes cats too much - anything small needs to be chased/hunted in his mind - so he is confined to the kitchen most of the day.  Things have deteriorated since February when I fractured my hip when he suddenly darted in front of me to try to get to another dog while we were out trotting down the street.  I was his primary caregiver but then I suddenly went away while I was in the hospital and then recovering.  Things weren’t going well and it was decided to contact the rescue and others to see if he could be rehomed.  The rescue couldn’t help and neither could anyone else.  His behaviorist said they could take him but they now have issues of their own and we have been unable to find transport for him.  TBH, I’m concerned about everyone’s safety should he be transported somewhere.  He might be fine but might not be. Things continued to go downhill and he now guards the stove area when my husband does anything near it.  His behavior has now escalated to actually biting.  He will also now grab and hold.  Our vet suggested we speak to another trainer that focuses on aggression cases.  He says this will likely escalate given what he’s heard and we are not far from a major incident.  He rarely recommends euthanasia but given our descriptions, Harley’s genetic makeup and background, he thinks it’s the only course and is best for everyone, including Harley.  Even though he said we have done more than most people, I still feel as if we’ve left him down.  He does have happy times.  He wants to be with us but then he can go “off”.  I feel like I’ve betrayed his former owner too since the rescue had us talk to her before he came up.  She was crying on the phone.  Okay, she really downplayed the problems but still.  We’ve tried to find people who are experienced with dogs like him to take him but none can. Treating him as normally as possible when we know a vet will be coming to kill him just makes me sick even though I know we have no other options and it has to be done. 

Phyllis DeGioia
May 4, 2022

Hi Julie, So sorry to hear about Cleetus (what a great name!). I understand how it feels. The reaction of your pet sitter is upsetting. It is completely uncalled for: the dog is not hers, and it is not her decision to make. She doesn't have to live with the dog or the consequences of his actions, nor face the legal and financial liability. From what you have said, I support your decision completely. As Dr. Gaspar says, “Death is the ultimate loss but not the ultimate harm."  My heart is with you.

Melissa Perez
May 3, 2022

I’m a vet tech and former animal control officer of 20 years with a background in training and behavior.  My husband and I had to make the most difficult decision of our lives yesterday.  We gave our sweet Jayda Raylene peace after 6.5 years of anxiety that worsened as she got older, despite everything we tried—medically and behavioral. We turned our house and lives upside down and put her needs above ourselves and our other animals. After she attacked one of the other dogs for the fifth time the day before yesterday—unprovoked—they were not interacting  and the other dog had her back to Jayda and was across the room— we cried knowing what we had to do.  I’ve counseled countless families to lead them to this choice with their aggressive pets but it’s so different when it’s your own family.  This article really helped me know that I won’t feel this awful forever and solidified the realization  that the life we were leading wasn’t healthy or sustainable for us, our other animals and for our sweet but broken Jayda Raylene.  Thank you so much for sharing this deeply personal experience.  It helps others in this position. 

May 2, 2022

This has been very comforting to read. We just put our sweet, 4 1/2 year old Boston Terrier, Cleetus, down yesterday. In our case, he was dog-aggressive, with the exception of the dogs we already had upon bringing him home as a puppy.  We tried everything.  Private trainers, training classes, techniques, everything under the sun. Nothing helped. The aggression didn't start until he was about a year old. I first realized how bad his aggression was when he jumped out of our car window to attack another dog. I mean...he went for blood.  It only got worse from there.  God forbid a contractor left the back gate open for a moment to get something from his truck, or one of us forgot to close the gate in time after taking out the trash...Cleetus would run like a bullet, down the street, to the nearby park, and viciously attack the first dog he could get to...for no reason.  A thousand times, we said "That's it...he has to go.". But he'd always give us the sad eyes (you know the ones), and we'd always say.."Well, maybe we could just keep him away from other dogs" (obviously the days of going to the dog parks were over way before that).   We thought we'd be able to keep our sweet boy, who, of course, loved us and who was never, ever aggressive toward humans.  But that just got more and more difficult to maintain.  About 2 weeks ago, I opened our front door to get the mail, and before I even realized he was near me, he squeezed past me, jumped over our porch gate (which we originally had put in to STOP him from getting out of the house accidentally) to attack an innocent dog on the street, on a walk w/ his owner.  We realized that, no matter how much we tried to confine him, he was just too "slippery" and becoming more and more of a liability. So finally, yesterday, we made the decision to put him down after, for no reason, he grabbed our new puppy's face with his teeth and locked his jaws so tightly, it took almost a minute to open his teeth, and get him off the puppy (thankfully puppies are resilient!) .  Both of my hands were cut to sh*t, full of puncture wounds.  That was the last straw and we knew it was time.  What's worse is, one of our dog-sitters wrote us a nasty text-letter, telling us how horrible we are, and how she wants nothing more to do with us b/c of the decision we've if the decision itself wasn't hard enough for us...being judged was the last thing we needed (even if we DON'T respect her opinion). Needless-to-say, it's been torturous for us.  We miss him so much.   The hardest part is that we keep reading blogs and articles that talk about euthanization of PEOPLE-aggressive dogs, but not much on dog-aggressive dogs.  We believe we made the right decision in general, but still question it, depending on which way the wind blows.  (??)

April 13, 2022

I want to thank you for this article and all of you in the comments for sharing your experiences as well. I hope to share my experience with my dog (rip), when I can find the strength, but I want you all to know that you did the right thing. That I love you all for making the ultimate sacrifice to make this world a safer place. A dog that bites a non-threatening person, especially their own family, with intent to harm (not accidental bite during intense play like tug of war) is mentally ill and a direct and substantial threat to your family and others. While it doesn’t make it hurt any less, find some relief in the fact you made the world safer for us all.

April 12, 2022

It’s 5am and we’ve booked my gorgeous Pepper in for euthanasia at home tomorrow. My heart is breaking and I cant sleep. Our Pepper is 2 years old and is a Romanian street dog (found in the rubbish). We’ve had her since she was about 3 months old. She is so smart in some ways and absolutely beautiful. But when she is triggered it’s like she becomes a different dog who won’t snap out of it until she’s physically removed from the situation. She’s reactive to everything- people, animals, any noise she doesn’t like. We’ve constantly practiced positive reinforcement and desensitisation throughout her life. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. We’ve learnt she can’t cope with life outside of the confines of our home and she won’t accept any variables in our home - visitors etc. She requires 100% management. She bit a family member (level 3) at the weekend with no warning when we were outside and she was on short lead. There have been so many level 1s and 2s near misses that I can’t count. She’s gone for my dad twice in the last 3 days without warning (didn’t connect with a bite as we restrained her).  She’s getting worse, not better despite management. We’ve had behaviourist guidance before and we’ve done everything they said. All the constant lead restraint and muzzling is causing more anxiety when her triggers are present. It’s creating more triggers that weren’t there before. My family say she has something mentally unhealthy going on. Our vet and vet behaviourist say that we have to manage her 100% of the time and even with training she’ll still pose a risk to others. I’m exhausted. My husband is broken. We love her so much but we are terrified we’ll make a mistake and she’ll seriously hurt someone. I strongly feel that rehoming could end in disaster but I don’t know if I’m being selfish in not giving her a chance somewhere else. I don’t know if I’ve done enough for her. I don’t know if I’ve made her this way. I feel like this is all my fault and she deserves so much more. She’s only 2. Our vet is amazing and has said we have to consider quality and not quantity of life. Pepper will require so much management to make her suitable for society that it may ultimately increase her anxiety and stress and make life so difficult for her. I can’t believe that today is the day of some of our lasts with her. Her last afternoon, her last dinner, our last evening walk, our last bed time playtime. I hate this so much. I can’t stop crying.

March 17, 2022

Thank you for writing this, i have returned to read it several times through my difficult journey. Like so many others I have searched for stories to help come to terms with what I feel is no longer a choice. I have two dogs, my first pup, Mowbray 11 years old has been through it all with me. Pivotal life events, the good and the bad. His cuddles has helped me through. Most of the time he is loving and playful. He loves people and they think he is the softest thing. For many years we had a good routine but the aggression was there in the background and I learnt to avoid triggers. He bit me on occasion, often out of the blue or due to a stressful situation outside. Single bites with puncture marks. I lied to family/friends and I made excuses to myself believing I did something to “spook him” or someone else did. These incidents were so infrequent that I just brushed them off and adapted further. I stopped acknowledging growling as aggression and I just referred to him as a “grumpy bum”. I tried training and gadgets. Weighted costs, anxiety medication and CBD. It really does get worse. I have been deliberating euthanasia for over a year now and eventually I asked the vet for their honest opinion after an escalation. It was not what I wanted to hear but what I needed to hear. I had been arguing with my boyfriend about it and I even considered leaving him so I wouldn’t have to go through with it. After a lot of distress I’ve now accepted that it is the kindest thing to do for him. I have another dog with no behavioural issues…i have treated them the same so I honestly think he must be “wired wrong” but through my grief I question whether I left him alone too young as a pup, did i cause this in some way? Tomorrow my baby is booked in to be put to sleep & my heart is breaking. I feel guilty that I can’t do it at home and he doesn’t like the vets.  The panic has hit me. Today is the last of everything. I’m scared I will feel relief.

March 15, 2022

I'd like to thank the author and many commenters for providing much needed peace of mind. I came across the article at around 1:00 am last night, after having trouble sleeping subsequent to having euthanised our much loved family pet only 8 hours earlier. Wracked with both grief and guilt, I googled for stories of others who had similar experiences and found this article. After an escalating series of biting incidents, 3 of which had resulted in trips to the doctor for family members, we finally made the decision that euthanasia was the only option after over a year of trying to manage the problem without success. I was confident when we made the decision that it was the right one, but laying awake in the middle of the night thinking about our beautiful dog who was loving and affectionate 99% of the time, my trust in the decision was starting waver. Reading this article, and all the follow up comments has provided great reassurance that the right decision was made. I still have regret that we were not able to manage the progression , allowing us to avoid getting to where we are now, but giving the severity of the latest incident and the risk of further escalation, I now remain convinced we had no other viable options. The idea expressed in this article (and the  many wonderful comments), that - despite appearing healthy on the outside - dogs in this situation are actually quite ill from a mental point of view resonate strongly with me. Our lovely dog was not a bad dog, he just had an illness that we were not able to resolve, and this eventually led to the tragic, but necessary outcome of having him put to sleep. Less than 24 hours since we said goodbye to him, my memories are already dominated by all the good times we had together. Grief is still the overwhelming emotion, but I'm sure I'll eventually get to the point where these fond memories can fill my heart with joy rather than the stabbing pain of grief they are raising now. My heartfelt best wishes go out to all those who are treading (or have tread) this path. Reading this page has definitely made me feel less alone in my grief, and that has helped lift my burden.

Patrick Boudreau
March 11, 2022

Thank you for this article. I had to go through this heart breaking process today. It's something you have to do but it's difficult to find the strength to go through with it. Reading this gave me some solace.

February 19, 2022

I started looking for something to help me with the decision I am about to make. I’ve had my pup going on 9 years. She’s a heeler, got her when she was 8 weeks old. We’ve had nipping incidents months if not years a part but soon found ourselves not being able to have her out and about when we had people over. She is an anxious dog. As a puppy she was the smartest dog and picked up on all tricks I showed her quick! She wasn’t my cats best friend but I never had to worry about them fighting or that my cat was in danger, my cat was older when the pup came into our  lives. We are campers and we started taking her out at months old, once fully vaccinated. One time camping at almost one year old, she went after someone passing by too close to where she was tied, we had a long leash on her. She nipped a friend in the butt but only got his pants. We knew we had to keep her closer. My nephews friend came over once and went after his heel, only the shoe, no skin contact. Then my brother, he yelled at her while she was passing by and nipped his hand, didn’t break skin but bruised. Little by little we found ourselves keeping her on the side of the house. Fireworks drive her crazy, I tried CBD, thunder shirt, trained her to wear a muzzle and she is crate trained. The crate training allowed us to continue to take out camping. We learned to manage the situation and keep her safe. The first time she nipped me, she got my forearm because I grabbed her from under her hips, I learned not to do that. Bikes, skateboards, anything moving just triggers her but for the most left it alone if I told her to ‘leave it’ and always kept her on a short leash. Walking her she’s great, as long a someone doesn’t try to touch her. Ive received so many compliments walking her, she’s great, she doesn’t bark and doesn’t lunge at other dogs.I’ve asked plenty of people not to pet her or when they ask, I kindly say, no please don’t, thank you for asking. Here and there we’d give her a bone and that she won’t stop and will growl if I try to take away but her regular food, she can’t touch until she shakes paw and If I ask her to back off she will. She’s a special dog and bowed to protect her and give her a chance and like I said, the incidents were far apart. As she’s gotten older tho, I find myself more anxious, I can’t remember the exact situation when she nipped me the second time but, last week she went for my leg after a walk when I tried removing her harness, no blood but a nice nip so it bruised. This week, again while removing her harness, she bit my hand. I say Bite this time because she grabbed my hand and She didn’t let go right away … but also did not shake the bite. It was seconds but it felt longer and she didn’t let go when I told her to let go, I pulled my hand and for a second I thought, she’s gonna bite  a piece of my hand off. When she let go of my hand she tried to go for my feet but I told her no and she stopped. I did go to urgent care afraid of an infection as I was bleeding. I feel as I’m writing  this, I’m minimizing what has happened over the last 8 years. I feel  so heartbroken, my husband who is a very tough, you gotta do what you gotta do kinda man, may be in denial and does not want to give up on her, it’s making  it worse… that’s his girl.  I told him we have to let her go, it’s not IF it happens again but when it happens again, how bad will it be? What if it’s not me and it’s someone else? The liability? What if it was my leg, now my hand, next? My face? His face? This time around I can’t minimize what happened because from last week to this week, it escalated. It took me hours after the incident to fully realize what had happened, the adrenaline left and  then I cried. The shock, she turned on me! Her every day handler! The one who swore not to give up on her and protect her. How can I trust her now? How can I take her camping, how can I put her harness on? How can I walk her and feed her. This was Weds evening, today Saturday I cried all day as I can’t help to get nervous when she comes close to me or jump if she barks. I haven’t been able to pet her or shake her paw… they’re setting off fireworks and she is terrified so she ran to go under my feet for protection. My husband wasn’t home so I called him to come home right away because I started shaking and my heart going 100 miles an hour, I was so anxious….. and my heart shattered… It is the hardest decision as an animal lover, my husband became an animal lover because of me.  My first euthanasia decision was my cat due to pancreatic cancer, he was 5 and my husband’s 1 year anniversary gift to me. My hubby was there, as I wasn’t strong enough to take him in. Love him for that. My second was my 18 1/2 year old cat who showed my husband he was really not allergic to cats  once we got married…I had to be there for her, she gave me 18 1/2 years, I was kid when she came into my life and had to let her go due to hyperthyroidism, her age didn’t allow for treatment anymore. With them two, I feel there was a legit medical reason…. no, it hurts just as much if not more…people have told me, just put her down why are you dealing with it? I want to feel like I’m not listening to them. I hate it because as others have said, I gave it my all, I can’t love her anymore but it’s not enough… I can take care of her financially but it’s not enough… I don’t think she can be fixed and as she’s getting older it’s just gonna get worse for all of us… I’m so happy to have found this site… it has allowed me to tell our story and read all these stories that share I am not alone, feeling so heart broken and fighting the feeling of having failed her…

February 15, 2022

I just had to take this decision today. I had and 12 year old Belgian sheepdog. I owed the dog since he was a puppy. He was very smart and michevious dog. As a puppy he was the alpha with his brother and always very good driven. When I first got him I was single. I never had any bad bite incidents but he was always a good guard dog and barked at fence. When walking I had to be careful because he would lunge at people who got too close and particularly of children because he would lunge and bark. One he jumped on cyclist who rode by us on sidewalk and ripped his shirt. But he was always leashed and I was able to pull him away before he actually but anyone. Flash forward 9 years a I'm married and have our first child. The dog had never attacked anyone in household and only nipped me if I was trying to brush his tail. My son is about year old. We're both in family room and I finished eating something. The dog was in front of me expecting a bite or treat when my son came up. His reaction was to snap at him and bite him in the face. The bite was snap on his cheek and very close to his eye. Infact his eyelid was bleeding. I was so shocked after this I briefly returned dog to breeder, but felt so bad I got home in a few days. The breeder felt since it was just nip I could train him out if it. Over next three years I kept on edge about dog being near toddler. I made sure to lock him out when food involved. Unfortunately, I had two other incidents of him nipping my son's arm and another where he again nipped his face. I justified these as being provoked by my son. In the second face incident he had put toy car on his fur and I thought maybe it pinched him. Again I did my best to supervise when dog and my son together. Remind my son not to pull at him, lean on him ect and after being bit several times my son learned to be more careful. Flash forward today. We recently welcomed home another baby. I am not sure if this triggered the dog to again try to establish his dominance or rank in pack, but he again nipped my son on arm. Enough to just break skin and leave red scratch from him pulling hand away. This time attack was definitely unprovoked. Over weekend dog had been getting brazen about stealing food. I'm nursing. A few days before he came in and stole toast off my son's plate while I was watching and told him not to. Today, I gave my son some gummies for Valentine's day. I took baby upstairs and went to change leaving my son on couch watching cartoons and eating his gummies. Dog sleeping on floor. Two seconds after I get upstairs I hear my son bawling. The dog snatched gummies frome him and when he tried to get it back he but him on the arm. I find the dog in dining room tearing up gummy packet. I'm not angry, but at that moment knew I needed to have him put down. I realized how I had been a eggshells for years. Then I had to put newborn in bassinet with dog pacing around her after just biting my son for 5th time. While the bites are nips. A nip in face if baby can do major damage. My some was now 5 and I thought I had got to point he could be safe with dog, but I realized no. Other times I had delayed making decision and trauma of but would fade after few days and I would just justify and move on, but today I didn't. I feel guilty. Mainly because I had kids and it changed my priorities. If I was still single the dog would still be #1 and this wouldn't be issue, but that is reasonable. He was also getting to end of life span. He was having trouble getting around, suffered tooth problems, and occasional incontinence. I had to stop this year going on long hikes we once did because physically he was up for it. He sole joy in life seemed to be getting something good to eat or playing with stuffed be animals, which was another resource he would guard from my be son. I couldn't risk another bite which I felt might have been aimed at my newborn on e she starts moving around. I could re-home because I know my dog was very attached only to me at would not be happy with this. Also at 12 his food guarding behavior was pretty cemented as well as his desire to dominate pack. After first incident be I had tried recommdation if breeder about not feeding him before he we eat, not letting him walk in front of my son on walks up street, having my son give commands and treats, but there still seemed need for him to show dominance, especially when I was not watching which is when several nipping incidents occured. While no I feel really terrible I am also relieved. I could never have friends kids over due to dogs issues and now can. I could also never have maid and any time someone came over that he wasn't family with I had to lock him in years where he would bark constantly and tear up door trying to get in. He basically ruined both sides of door and molding in both houses he lived in due to separation anxiety  I came to accept this as normal and having dog I had to prevent from lunging and biting at people. This is feasible in public but very difficult at home, especially with kids. Once dog but my son first time the trust was broken and I felt differently about him and all dogs

Phyllis DeGioia
February 14, 2022

Shari!! I am beyond thrilled to hear from you again, and with such happy news about a new puppy! I hope this new pup is all your heart desires and more. He will have a good life with such a devoted owner. Hope he feels as I do, that he has landed in clover. Time can bring unbelievable changes. I'm almost 9 years out at this point, and I haven't cried from missing him in years. As you know, I never felt guilty and I'm sad when I hear that someone is. When I see a photo of Dodger, my heart clutches in happy love for him, and I don't think about him biting me or knocking me down the stairs. Okay, I still get a little bit over-involved in trying to pet the English setters I see out and about - some of them are like Dodger and do not appreciate new human or canine friends - and some of them are as "adore me, love me, pet me" as my brother-in-law's, the dog that made me want that breed. Your love for Mona will never go away, and she will always be a vital part of your heart. Eventually you will get to the point where the pain is forgotten and you can revel in having known and loved Mona.  Thank you for letting us know.

February 14, 2022

This is my third post.  The first was two days before we put down our Mona.  The second was a month after and I was still in the deep grief stage. It's been 7 months and still not a day goes by that I don't think of her.  If I talk about her I still get teary, but now it’s mostly just because I miss her.  It used to be a mixture of missing her and guilt that maybe there was something more I could have done. As time goes on, I realize I only had that one choice.    I am happy to report that we got a new precious puppy in December!  I was worried if I waited too long, I wouldn’t do it.  I’m so glad I did, as he is such a joy and is helping fill that void Mona left in our hearts.  I just wanted to write this one last time to thank Phyllis for telling her story and allowing all of us to tell ours.  It was a tremendous help during such a terrible time in my life.

February 8, 2022

I keep coming back to this gut-wrenching experience and re-reading it, along with the comments. We adopted a lab last year who’s what we’re calling a red-zone dog now. We’ve been through immersive training, she’s been part of a balanced pack of dogs in training, we’ve been trained on how best to handle her. Yet, here we are—multiple bites later. My hubby’s worst bite happened a couple months ago when he was attempting to change her collar. It was about a level four bite. He went to ER. Yesterday, she attacked me while I was carrying her food bowl, something I’ve done without issue all this time. She grabbed my left hand and I had to pry her off with my right hand. Like most dogs here, she’s so sweet, submissive and loving most of the time. But she does have some triggers. I’m sitting here crying, knowing what we need to do. What will it take? We walk daily. She’s not reactive to dogs and people. But, she’s explosive inside the car and at the TV, at times. Certain very specific things (or maybe not if mental) seem to suddenly trigger her. The problem is: we have to walk on eggshells. We never see them coming. She has a history of running out of the dining room at night where she’s relaxing and charging my hubby. It’s all so draining, sad. What lesson is there in this for any of us? Love isn’t enough here. And the rehab folks we work with basically tell us we need to establish ourselves as pack  leaders with a calm firm consistent demeanor that requires force. Like old-school dominance ideas. We disagree with this style of handling (force). And why would we want to become aggressors to then—what? Really erode trust and respect? Doesn’t make sense. My heart goes out to every one of you going through something similar here. She’s outside right now. We have another dog. She’s totally submissive to all dogs, yet wants to seriously attack the hands that feed her at certain times. We have a calm household. No kids. No craziness. It’s all so outside the bounds of what I’ve ever known.

Lauri Fauss
February 7, 2022

I euthanized my beautiful 6 year old australian shepherd 16 years ago after she explosively grabbed my 8 year old daughter's face.  Miraculously, one canine went into her eye socket and the lower one into the roof of her mouth ... and she has her eye and no scars.  In hindsight the dog had been doing everything in her power to NOT bite for a long time and she managed to release and only bite once.  The dog was distraught, inconsolable and in serious danger of biting again.  I now understand impulse aggression and have seen it in several patients since.  I do not regret euthanizing her, but we miss her still.  She was totally devoted to my daughter.  I thought my daughter had survived the incident until 2 months ago when I told her that I would have to euthanize the dog that came to us after her (16 years old and failing fast).  My daughter is 24 and is no longer speaking to me ... I killed both of her precious pets.  My heart is broken for all of them, but I still do not regret my decision to euthanize our beautiful aussie.  It was the safest, most humane  and only choice for everyone.

January 13, 2022

I’m glad this article exists, it’s brought me a bit of peace as I’ve been beating myself up for the decision to euthanise my rottie mix, Shotgun. Shotgun was born in a litter of puppies that my brothers dog had the day after my brother died. I figured it was fate and that bringing one of them home would give me closure for my brothers death. Unfortunately while I made arrangements for Shotgun to come home, he was in the care of someone not suited for dog ownership (I didn’t know until I brought him home). She didn’t introduce him to necessary experiences, he had no socialisation, no training and she refused to vet him even with me offering to pay. This resulted in Shotgun being quite a difficult dog to handle. He’s about 80lbs of pure muscle and as stubborn as any bully breed. I’ve had Shotgun for almost a year now, and he truly is a sweetheart towards me other than the occasional snap due to resource guarding that I always tried to shake off. But anyone that isn’t me, or as of late, any dog that isn’t Artemis (my service pup) is fair game for an all out attack. Even Artemis has been experiencing mild aggression from him lately. She can’t even eat her meals peacefully without Shotgun lunging at her in a barking flurry. Shotgun has always had stranger reactivity, and has been in training since I got him. To see him decline so much recently has been painful. It makes leaving my home stressful. I’ve felt isolated. I’ve had to neglect Artemis’ needs to play with other dogs and run because Shotgun just isn’t as friendly. Walking him in the city is out of the question and his quality of life is so poor due to the level of management I’m forced to do in order to keep strangers and other dogs safe. I’m certain that the only reason he hasn’t been able to attack another person is due to my vigilant management. I am 99.9% sure that he would, if I didn’t have such rigid routines for him. The final straw happened a few weeks ago. My dog walker attempted to take them to the dog park (at this time, Shotgun appeared to have no dog aggression. He had always loved dogs previously). My dog walker said that Shotgun was “out for blood” the moment he entered the dog park. He went after several dogs necks, and had to be wrestled to the ground and carried out of the park. That’s when I realised that no amount of training was going to help him. Shotgun had wiring issues in his brain that just weren’t going to be cured. I’m heartbroken. My trainer is heartbroken. My dog walker who had a chance to bond with him is heartbroken. It feels like losing my brother again and I keep kicking myself for not having even more intensive training sooner on when he wasn’t showing such severe aggression. We didn’t think it’d progress past what appeared to be excitement to meet everyone. I know Shotgun is miserable. He’s so afraid of the world and I’ve done everything I could to lead him and soothe his fears. I feel guilty that it’s come to this point. I think I feel even more guilty that part of me is relieved. That I’ll be able to resume Artemis’ service dog training. That she’ll be able to eat in peace. I’ll be able to drive to the dog park and not have to keep driving if I see someone there. I’ll be able to sleep knowing he wont attack her at 3am for jumping on my bed. I won’t be injured anymore trying to manage his unpredictable outbursts. I adore Shotgun, and I’m absolutely heartbroken over losing him, but I’m also heartbroken at the life Artemis has had to live because of my decision to bring him into the home. Thank you for this article. Euthanising a dog for behaviour is an experience I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I’ve had to come to peace that he’s not well, and this has helped me come to that realisation.

January 12, 2022

I landed on this post finding some solace on the last day of my dog Ruby's life on earth.  I rescued her 8 years ago.  I was told she was left in the backyard for most of her first 2 years.  When I brought her home we properly introduced her to the other dogs but a few days later she attacked one of the dogs. I thought she was having a hard time adjusting to our home.  But over the years she fought with several dogs, and attacked and killed our chihuahua.  One day we caught her attacking a deer.  After speaking and working with trainers and rescues we were advised our choices were management or putting her down.  We decided on a thorough management plan with a large kennel (inside our house), muzzle, and exercise.  Ruby's life is one of being penned up, walking with a muzzle, and being contained when any other dogs or humans are around. As we have all grown older the management protocol is harder and harder to maintain. A few weeks ago she tried to attack our small dog just walking across the room.  Thankfully my husband saw her start to attack and jumped on her.  He ended up in the ER 2 times for a few bad puncture wounds and our poor pup had 4 punctures. 2 years again I promised myself (after the last attack) if it happened again, I would have to let her go.  So I have made plans for the mobile vet to come tomorrow and take our dear Ruby.  I have spent last week serving her favorite steak dinners and midnight walks so she can stroll with about a muzzle or others to make her anxious. I talk to her about the moonlight and that someday we will be together and part of this magnificent universe. This afternoon I plan to take her to McDonalds for a cheeseburger and tell her over and over how much I love her.  I feel like a mother whose child is on deathrow.  There is nothing we can do. they did the crime and must pay the consequences.  Some beings just cannot fit into this world.  All we can do is send them off with love knowing we make the world a better safer place. I will grieve and donate to a rescue in her honor. Thanks for all your stories.  I found the strength and solace I was searching for.  They help me to be calm and confident tomorrow so my girl will be at peace.

Mary E
January 9, 2022

I’ve read your article a few times over the years.  Not bc I’ve forgotten your story bc I haven’t.. I think of it a lot.  Lately more than ever.  It’s been 9 years with my dog.  We love him so much but it’s close to the end of the road…. We have lost complete trust, we walk on egg shells and we are tired of being scared.  It’s so painful to think about euthanizing him… we talk about it but it’s so hard.  How do you make an apt in the near future and wait for it?  How do you feed your dog his meals knowing they are numbered.  How do you continue to give him Prozac those last few days just to keep his schedule going knowing it’s for nothing.  How do you take him in your car knowing it’s his most favorite thing in the world… seeing him so happy to hang his head out and sniff the air as you drive.  How can you possibly drive that last trip to a vet and hear him whine gently so that you open the window for him.  It would feel like the ultimate betrayal and I would likely just turn the car around.  I’m almost waiting for an unforgivable incident that forces my hand….  But that’s insane.  Why would you wait for the utmost horrible thing to  happen to give you the strength to do it??  He has never even had a serious bite (only with us) or hurt another person or animal but that’s bc we are so crazy vigilant and have systems in place to prevent it.  But we are tired now… we have also tried to have a baby for a few years.  Not having finished doing Ivf we are about to transfer an embryo and the panic sets in bc we definitely know we can’t have him and a baby.  We know he is not well and we understand what we need to do but it’s so damn painful to do it…… I feel so stuck.  I wouldn’t wish this situation on my worst enemy.

January 7, 2022

This was a great article and I came upon it in a timely manner. I have just scheduled the appointment to euthanize my dog, Jude, who is a 200+ lb English mastiff. While he hasn’t bitten anyone yet, he has almost bitten peoples hands when they attempt to pet him: no triggers, no warnings except a lip curl ( no growls or raised hackles etc). I’m heartbroken because he’s my first puppy, but I worry so much about other people getting hurt and could not bear it if something catastrophic happened. I understand now, after so many training programs and discussions with the breeder, that there is something wrong in his brain. I hope I can one day be at peace with my decision. Thank you for sharing your experience.

January 7, 2022

I’m not here to judge anyone. I’m here because I had to search for some insight for my Jack Russell mix, Scooter. He came to us as a very young dog, not a puppy, and not yet grown. Someone threw him in a dumpster, in a brand new pet carrier, in the middle of July, 5 1/2 years ago. I’m now sure it must have been traumatizing and I’d hoped he’d forgotten. I noticed once we got him home, when you touched him, he always seemed startled and his skin would crawl. He sleeps in our bed along with a female chihuahua and her brother. We’d had him for a couple of years when he became somewhat snappy towards us. Lately, if you touch him during his sleep. He jumps up growling and snarling, no matter what the object is. This morning, I picked up my male chihuahua, my little sad looking, loving boy, and just as I lifted him over my body to put him on my backside, I realized one of the others was laying beside me. Too late. Scooter came up fighting! Poor Casper was caught in a dark bedroom, not thinking about being attacked in his mama’s bed. Or maybe he was thinking, and scared. Scooter has attacked Casper several times and now Casper is what I’d call stressfully Introverted. And this time Scooter drew blood from Caspers leg. Scooter has bitten my husband at least 4 times. Everyday he seems more aggressive. He loves us. We love on him when he’s fully awake he seems, and I say this cautiously, happy and friendly. He hates being left alone. He actually cries. In February 2020, we brought home a white German Shepherd puppy named Shade. Shade liked to play with all of them but Scooter sometimes was okay with it, sometimes not. Then we notice a couple of instances in which Scooter would growl at Shade and then Shades hair on his back would stand up. Then the two times he actually got Scooter down, Scooter defecated on himself due to being so scared and Shade did actually bite Scooter. Shade and Scooter are never together anymore. Shade has to sleep in the hall instead of on the floor next to me, except when they go outside. And no, I don’t blame Shade, scooter has been moody from nearly the beginning of our life together. Now I’m hoping Scooters attitude has affected Shade’s. I’m thinking... and I’m thinking this with heavy heart, that Scooter should be peacefully euthanized so he can rest happy in what I believe there is, doggy Heaven. I can write this now, but I know it will be heavy on my mind to do this to him, because I love him so, and he loves me. I know he does! But something is not right with him. It isn’t fair to him if he’s miserable, or my other fur babies. Especially Casper who is so non aggressive, it hurts. Please say a prayer for us, that we can both come to the conclusion (my husband and I) on what I know is the best decision. My husband will disagree, even tho Scooter has drawn blood from him several times. It will not be easy to convince him just because...  Thank you all for prayers to give us the strength to let him go, for Scooters sake.

January 2, 2022

I am struggling with this decision right now. My Shih-Tzu is 11 years old and she has always been a biter. She has only bitten me and my husband. We have always just put up with it and learned what triggers her to bite. We now have a child and we live in constant fear that she will bite her so we keep our dog put up until the baby is in bed. Her behavior has gotten worse since we have had a baby.  She recently bit me on my arm when I was trying to pick her up. This incident has been the worst. My arm was very swollen and is still very bruised. We feel like we have two options: rehome her or have her put to sleep. Both options break my heart but my child comes first. If she will bite me, I have no doubt she would bite my child. My dog is very anxious and I don’t think she would do well if we rehomed her. I feel so cruel for having her put to sleep but I feel like her behavior has given me no other choice.

December 11, 2021

I’m struggling with this decision right now. My situation is very similar, but it does have a few differences. My Sherman was normal for the first 3-4 years of his life. He’s a Jack Russell and although energetic, he was loving and kind. Unfortunately, he was attacked by a Pit and nearly died. I broke up the fight and he’s never been the same. That is, he’s never been the same with me. He bites me; disobeys, runs away from me, and more. Most of the time he is loving towards others, but he becomes jealous when he has to share attention. He will bite others. He will also attack his pet brother and sisters. We are always on edge. My entire world is centered around him, resulting in my other dogs being neglected. He has started urinating everywhere. It’s a mess. I want to rehome him because I don’t believe he would behave this way with someone else. But how could I do that to someone without the assurance? I never thought I would be someone considering rehoming or euthanizing my dogs. My dogs are my family. I love them dearly. I live Sherman. I just want him to be happy.

Phyllis DeGioia
December 10, 2021

Donetta, I'm so sorry to hear of your experience. First, please don't let what other people say get to you, although I know that is easier said than done. They did not live with the dog, they did not see the attack, they do not understand the situation the way you do, and they never will. Your negative feelings will likely lessen if you take a "consider the source" kind of approach. I'm grateful that your friend is so supportive of you despite what happened to him, and more grateful still that you are now safe from an attack as well. Actually, I'm surprised that animal control would allow him to be adopted. I loved my aggressive dog too, with all my heart, but think of him as my Jekyll and Hyde. For what it's worth, I recommend getting another dog, one that has been thoroughly temperament tested (even though that is not a 100% guarantee). Falling in love with another dog, one that is easy to be with and who does not cause concern, will help you get over the past.  My heart is with you.

December 10, 2021

Hello.  I realize this article was written years ago but I wanted to let you know it's still useful. My pitbull attacked a close friend of mine and it was the scariest encounter I've ever had as you can imagine, it was worse for my friend.  The worst part about it over the past year has been people's comments about the situation.  I had to call 911 and along with the ambulance, animal control came to my home.  I signed my dog over to them but it was hard because I had grown so attached to him. They were going to quarantine him to ensure he didn't have rabies, update any shots he needed, and he had to be neutered before anyone would be allowed to adopt him.  He could only be considered for adoption after undergoing behavioral training, medical test, and he would still have the attack listed because of insurance for owners.  I have missed him terribly but I also couldn't have lived with myself if he ended up hurting someone else.  As is, my friend has forgiven me and offered support in my choice to sign my dog over.  I'm having a hard time forgiving myself for the attack happening and my inability to stop it. I cannot own a dog with potential to hurt or kill a grown man.  I've had people ask what my friend had done to cause the attack as if he brought it forth.  People have went on to tell me what a good dog I had as if to say I had done something to cause it.  I have worried that I wasn't qualified to handle such an energetic dog and hadn't trained him properly.  It's been almost a year since it happened and I obviously still search for answers.  Thank you for your honesty and as much as I loved my dog, I couldn't tolerate any aggression from him. Your article is helpful to people like me who wonder if they could have prevented the outcome.

Phyllis DeGioia
November 29, 2021

VE, I'm exceedingly sorry to hear about the grief you both endured in putting him down, and your wife's terrible attack. Having a 50 kg (about 110 lbs) dog attack your wife's neck must be the stuff of nightmares and PTSD, especially when you factor in the deep grief. The idea that your wife "survived" is also terrifying in the implication that she may not have. With all my heart, I believe you did the thing despite the enormous emotional cost. Why is it that doing the right thing can be so difficult? Time will help heal your grief. You will always have some grief, but it will become tolerable after a really long time. I wish you luck in that process, and my heart is with you.

November 25, 2021

Thanks for writing this post and for all the people that posted comments sharing their stories. My wife and I just put our dog to rest and this was by far the worst experience of my life. I cannot describe the amount of pain and suffering that my wife and I went through with the decision to euthanize him. We tried a bit of everything, multiple times, with him and we spent thousands of euros trying to fix his aggression. I would have gladly spent much more if I knew that this would eventually cure him, but it reached a point when we couldn't take risks anymore. I lost hope that he could be cured some day. Three days ago our 50 kg dog lunged on top of my wife and tried to bite her neck. My poor wife used her arms to protect her neck and fortunately she survived, but the attack left huge scars on her arms and fingers. I will never forget how her body was covered with blood when I managed to take the dog from top of her. This was not the first attack towards her or me, but it was definitely the worst one. We tried to find a solution for our dog for almost 2 years, but nothing worked and despite the horrible attack of 3 days ago, my wife still loved our dog until the last moments and she didn't want to see him die. And I shared the same feeling. Despite this horrible attack, I didn't want to kill our dog. It's strange how we always remember only the good moments with our beloved dog and forget and forgive any wrongdoing. But putting him to rest was the only solution now because my wife's life is more important than anything for me. Thanks for reading a bit of my story.

November 16, 2021

It’s been almost 3 months since I put my sweet boy Terry down.  My heart breaks for anyone currently dealing with an aggressive dog.  Now that I am on the other side I can clearly see that Terry was not mentally well and I made the right decision.  It was not normal to be afraid of my once sweet boy,  it was not normal for him to lunge at me and bite me unprovoked.  I kept hoping that tomorrow would be better, that if I tried to eliminate triggers that made him anxious the aggression towards me would stop.  I couldn’t figure out why he was so sweet to other dogs and people and would turn on me…the one who loved him so much.  I still cry most days…but it’s better.  I broke down at a business dinner when my colleagues starting showing pictures and telling stories about their happy pups.  And that is okay.  I am not sure I will ever completely heal…but I no longer avoid social situations afraid someone is going to ask about him…if I break down it’s okay.  I could not have lived with myself if he had hurt anyone else…my vet, trainers told me he would have gotten worse.  For all those going through this you are not alone and both you and your sweet puppy deserve peace.

October 28, 2021

Can anyone give me advice. I have a bully I got at 8 weeks old from probably the worlds shittiest backyard breeder (I didn't know this upon arriving to the house to get him). I did my best socilizing him. I took him to parks, places that there were a lot of people, we had summer graduations I took him to, etc. When he turned 5 months old he started to show signs of aggression. It started with him growling at dogs he wasn't familiar with, to him growling and nipping at people he didn't know. So by 6 months I got him into a trainer who was able to make it possible for me to walk him in a park without him growling at anyone, but he still wouldn't let anyone touch him. He has nipped at 3 children and broke some skin on another. I got him on some trazadone from the vet, but it doesn't seem to help when he's around people he doesn't know. I feel as if this is a genetic problem that won't be solved through training, just "managed" until something tragic happens. This is extremely stressful, I have to keep him couped up when people are over, I feel isolated and helpless. My vet suggested euthanizing him and I feel as if that is something I will have to do. Does everyone feel guilt, sadness, and regret thinking about euthanzing their healthy dog due to aggressive behaviors? I feel like I'm failing my dog who loves me so much, but it is becoming too much for me to handle. I am constantly stressed when I leave my house knowning that there are kids coming in and out due to baby sitting and he doesn't give any warnings, he just nips or bites. What should I do.

Phyllis DeGioia
October 11, 2021

Here's an article from animal behaviorist Patricia McConnell on the topic: In her piece, you will see that Trish and I know each other, and that she has a link to an older article she'd written on the topic. She discusses some associated concerns that I did not.  I apologize to everyone who has written over the years who I did not answer. I euthanized Dodger in 2013. It's been a long time, but this article can sometimes keep the pain a bit too fresh, so I decided years ago that for my own mental health that I couldn't answer all of them, as I did for Jennette. Thank you for your understanding.

Phyllis DeGioia
October 11, 2021

Jenny, I'm so sorry you are experiencing this kind of difficulty. Trust me, I understand what it feels like, and also trust me when I say that time works wonders. Some day, sooner or later, you will be able to think of your Leo without pain or sadness. I wanted to point out that it is possible that spending the $600 to see a doggie psychiatrist may or may not have helped. You can't know, so please don't beat yourself up about it. I also wanted to point out that your closing sentences about love are so incredibly true. Please hold on to those thoughts this week. My heart is with you.

October 10, 2021

I scheduled an appointment to put my 3 yo rescue dog Leo down. 4 and a half days from now. It kills me to think this was our last weekend together. I’m going to miss him so much. He escaped the backyard fence and ran into a neighbor’s house. The neighbor says he looked like he was going to attack him but he got startled and ran away. I watched him run down the sidewalk, I thought I saw a person, prayed it wasn’t a child and that he wouldn’t attack them. By some miracle, I got Leo and his brother Charlie who had chased after him back in the house. My daughter asked me if Leo really hurt someone, would I get rid of him? I said yes, if he bit someone and made them bleed, I could not keep him. She reminded me that he bit her and it hurt and left a bruise but I kept him. I blamed it on him being overly excited and set up a zoom appointment with the behaviorist trainer. Anyways, I blocked the spot in the fence where the neighbor said he got out. I went outside with the dogs this time to monitor. I should have put him on a leash. He sniffed the barrier and instead, crawled under a different part of the fence that apparently had gotten loose and dashed off, Charlie following behind. They ran across the street. I screamed, lost my shoes running, even peed my pants. I watched Leo run behind a house. Then they both ran back to me and came inside. I thought I’d dodged another bullet. A few minutes later, an old man came to my door. He said “your black dog bit me” and showed me his arm, which was bleeding. I collapsed and cried hysterically. I felt terrible that this had happened, plus the realization that I couldn’t keep Leo was setting in. The neighbors supported me and seemed to feel worse for me than the guy that got bit. I laid on the floor and sobbed for hours, decided to call the vet and the original shelter he came from in the morning. The bet was out for the rest of the week. Shelter wouldn’t take him since he bit someone and broke the skin. I didn’t want to send him there anyways - he’d probably get scared and bite someone and get put down. What a tragic end to a traumatic life. I have given this dog so much love and he has given all his love to me. I spoke to the trainer I’d been working with about who/where might take a dog with a bite history. She said it would be irresponsible to send him off to potentially hurt others. She’s the first one to mention humanely putting him down. I didn’t even want to acknowledge the possibility. However, sending him to heaven straight from being in a home where he is loved so fully and has trust in me and Charlie, sounds so much better than sending him off to who-knows-where to face more trauma and fear. So I’m soaking up all of my time with him. Trying to grieve as much now as I can in hopes of surviving the heartbreak when he’s gone. I just wish he were older or had a medical issue. I wish I would have paid the $600 for him to see the doggy psychiatrist. I wish I would have put him on a leash before I trusted the fence. Maybe I wish I wasn’t so attached to him that I feel like a part of me will die with him. I may always wish and wonder if I could have done better for him. But I know I gave him everything I had and more and we will always love each other, even if we’re apart. I will miss him laying with me and cuddling, the way he looks at me so lovingly. I’ll miss his smile and the way his whole backside wiggles when he’s happy. I’ll miss how he gets so excited when I say “bone” and he dashes to wait in his crate. I’ll miss him and Charlie wrestling and playing together constantly, even when they get on my nerves. I fear the quiet, the boringness that might come. Charlie’s smile disappearing, though he will probably be more affectionate with me once he isn’t so jealous. It will be nice to have my dad over, he’s been too nervous to come with Leo here. I won’t have to keep gates closed or worry about him running up and nipping my daughter. Making her feel like I don’t take it seriously that he makes her nervous. My boyfriend’s dog can come over to visit again. If I go in a trip, Charlie can go to a normal boarder without me being scared to death of someone getting bit. I can take Charlie on peaceful walks without Leo being so overstimulated. The fact is, I’d do it all again because I will never regret being Leo’s mommy for the past 8 months. I did save him and show him what true love is. And he will never feel anything toward me other than love.

Monica Celizic
September 29, 2021

Like others who posted here, I recently faced the difficult decision to euthanize my 12-1/2 year old Labrador Retriever/pit bull mix after she mauled one of my other dogs.  I had seen her act out before, with another of my dogs, but I was convinced I could work with her.  It was the old "she just needs love" syndrome. I also took her to training classes and we consulted a professional behaviorist -- after all, I worked for one of the country's largest humane societies and had access to everyone. I feel guilty for putting my pack through this.  I miss her gentle side too, the many times she would lick my face and put her paw on my shoulder to try to console me through life's twists.    She even knew as I cleaned up the bloody carnage that she was wrong.  But that didn't stop her from doing it. The house has an eerie quiet now, as the other dogs come to terms that she's not coming home.  I want to howl to the moon in anguish, both loving her and missing her.  She was my warrior princess, tough as nails, fearless against anyone she thought was a threat.  Sadly, that also included my sweet little one-eyed basset hound (who I am glad survived, by the way).  In the end, aggression including aggression towards other dogs, must not be tolerated or worse, excused.  I'm sorry Bessie.

September 2, 2021

Like many I come here looking for solace and insight.  My heart is broken, and I am hurting terribly, feels nearly unsurvivable at this time.  We put down our Akbash, Satchel this morning.  He was from a Pyrenees rescue group, purported to be Yellow lab and Pyrenees, but not.  He was found nearly dead from starvation.  Our vet noted it was nearly 100% likely he had survived distemper.  I believe he had been feral.  At first we knew he had some resource guarding issues, but I have worked with many dogs and felt comfortable dealing with this.  However, his aggression was much more global, expanded from food, to place/access of areas.  He both played with and bullied our wonderful Golden mix boy. He did not like to be touched at all.  He showed evidence of fly snatching syndrome, indicating probable focal seizure activity of some type.  We went on vacation when he was 5 months old, came back with the trainer he stayed with (a good, positive reinforcement only experienced trainer) recommending he be put down, he was “psycho”.  We consulted our vet, he was placed on prozac.  He improved for a while, then became more aggressive again.  I would like to say that this story is a little different-he has never really bit anyone, and he is aggressive primarily to myself and my husband, instead he charges us, growling posturing and literaly shoving us, front feet on our shoulders.  We drove 200 miles to see a behaviorist at a vet school-more meds, and some improvement, but he worsened again, becoming not only aggressive but increasing compulsive behavior, anxiety.  We brought him back to our vet during Covid times, could not come in, and he blew up at the vet/staff.  No one injured, but everyone shook.  Tried another new drug with again some improvement.  But again, over the last several months worsening.  He charged my husband, knocking him to the ground and took his arm in his jaws.  He is now very large, weights about 115.  It was in response to him trying to get a few burrs out of his tail, while I fed him treats.  So, we decided this was enough.  He had not seriously injured anyone, but it seems only a matter of time, and he is huge.  On a good day he is a wonder, on a bad day, obsessive, compulsive, and very unhappy.  Our very kind vet thought there was only increasing behavior and neurological problems in his future.  So, we chose to bring things to a close before anyone was seriously injured.  We had given him chill protocol meds, he was sedated and peaceful and were able to have the vet come outside to the grassy treed area by her office.  It was a soft ending.  I was able to hug him, cry into his fur and pet him all over-something I was unable to do while he was alive.  I will debate the rightness/wrongness of my actions all the rest of my life.

September 2, 2021

This website has helped me so much. Thank you everyone for sharing your stories. Here’s the situation I’m in and please comment on how to move on with life once euthanizing a dog. I have a 4-year-old Pitbull terrier (yes, I know a bunch of people don’t like pit bulls because they are “aggressive”, but my Pitbull has a unique story.) I got my pit from a friend of a friend. The first owner of my pit abused him. They left him outside, didn’t feed or give him water when they should have, etc. When I heard about this, I got the Pitbull out of that situation. He was a sweet dog, but you could tell very scared. He would always shake at random times and be unsure about his surroundings. When he walked it seemed as though he was drunk. He wobbled and struggled getting up. He had a hard time walking and when he would try and run, he would just fall over. I took him to the vet soon after I got him. The vet ran many tests on him. The vet didn’t want to neuter him because they didn’t know if he would wake up from the surgery. The vet ran a bunch of tests, and they couldn’t find anything wrong with him. The vet recommended going to a place a couple hours away that could look for more answers. Hearing this sounded great, until I realized the situation, I was in. I had no car or money to get him to this place that could possibly help him. At this time in my life, I was a broke college student. Day after day went by and I noticed him getting worse. He would wobble and fall more. Instead of giving up on him, I woke up every morning before my classes and helped him. I would lift him up with one arm and the other one place one of his paws down on the ground. I then would alternate paws while still holding him up. Eventually with time, he got the hang of it. The tricky part was showing him how to walk up and down the stairs. I would have to place a piece of cheese or treat on one step to get him to be motivated to go up the stairs.  It took longer than expected, but he eventually learned how. He wasn’t completely normal though. He would still drag his feet while he walked and sometimes would struggle getting up. Years had past and he became a lot stronger. He still wasn’t a “normal” dog, but he was a lot better. The main thing that was out of the ordinary was his nervous system was off. Whenever I would bring him in the car, he would have an accident. I just thought he was just scared and didn’t blame him since he was potty trained and that it was just his nerves. He would also get scared in the house and poop everywhere because he would hear a noise outside or meeting a new person scared him that he couldn’t control his bowel movements. The Beginning of his Aggression  : The first time he showed aggression was when my roommate at the time opened the front door. He got in between her and the door and barked at her aggressively, at this time I yelled at him, and he ran upstairs into his crate. He knew he was in trouble. He was 2 at that point. When he turned 3 things got a lot worse for him. I was staying at my boyfriend’s house and the doorbell rung. My boyfriend’s roommate ordered door dash. His roommate went downstairs to answer the door and my dog followed him. Suddenly you just hear my dog sounding crazy and a loud bang. I ran downstairs to see my boyfriend’s roommate hand bleeding (which he probably should have gotten stitches, but he didn’t) and his shirt being torn. I also saw my dog jumping up at the roommate (which was weird because he does not usually jump).   As soon as my dog saw me, he ducks his head, had his ears go back. He knew he was in trouble and bolted upstairs. When my dog ran upstairs, I was in shock. I was mad. You would think I was mad at my dog… but I wasn’t. I was mad at the roommate. How could he lay his hands on him? Why was he aggressive with my dog? So many thoughts ran through my head as to why the roommate was aggressive towards him. I sat there and cried because I knew my dog had already been through so much and now, he was being thrown around all over again. This was my thought when this happened. I blamed the roommate and not my dog. I was in denial that my dog was becoming aggressive. That was only the start of things. More Aggression: The other time he showed this behavior was when my boyfriend tripped over something. He didn’t fall or anything, but my dog went into his “crazy mode”. He just lunged at my boyfriend and jumped up at him (luckily not biting him even though he tried). We hurried and shut him in the bedroom to calm down. After a couple minutes we let him out and he acted as if nothing had just happened. My thought on this was me blaming my boyfriend. Why did he have to be so clumsy I sat there and thought. If he would have just sat there than my dog wouldn’t go into attack mode. The next time he went crazy was when my old roommate knocked on my window. My dog went crazy. He lunged at my boyfriend and I and he was barking at us as though we had done something wrong. We were able to get him to the bedroom without us getting hurt. (Again, I blamed my old roommate for knocking on the window). A couple of other times when a UPS man came, or someone knocked on the door, my dog would go into his attack mode. One time he even had me pinned behind a workout machine (and thankfully it was an awkward shape so my dog couldn’t bite me and trust me he tried). When this happened, my boyfriend would just be like “here’s a treat” and he would stop. The weird thing about him getting into these moods is that his eyes would turn all black. His pupils would cover his entire eyes. When my dog wasn’t anxious about something, he was the BEST dog. He loved to cuddle and be near me. If you wanted to sleep all day and wake up at 3pm, he was right there with you. He was never an annoying dog that would wake you up just to take him out in the mornings. When you woke up, he would too. He also loved going on hikes. Once he got stronger, he would love walking and smelling different smells on hikes. If you didn’t want to go on a hike and be lazy all week, so was he. He also had many dog friends. Like I said, when he wasn’t in his anxious mood, he was perfect. Aggression Towards Me: My roommate and I were leaving the house to go somewhere. When we opened the door, he ran out. My first response was to grab him and put him back inside…. this was a mistake.  He lunged at me and started barking hysterically at my direction. My reaction was to try and hold him back (this was another mistake of mine). He bit me 3 times on my arm that drew blood. I also had a couple bit marks on my knee from him. I yelled “do you want a treat” and he still was trying to attack me. I yelled for my boyfriend, and he ran upstairs and started yelling “TREAT”. My dog finally turned and got a treat. We immediately shut him in the bathroom. I just sat there and cried. My head was spinning because I was his human. Why would he attack me? We had such a strong bond and I trusted him and this time he had attacked me and drew blood. I was heartbroken to say the least.  I knew I had to do something at this point. The Vet Visit:I had noticed since then, that his anxiety was more noticeable. He would always be cautious as to who went in and out of the house. He would constantly be observing everything that was going on. I went to the vet to hopefully find some solutions. They prescribed him anxiety medication. Finally, I thought, this should work. I had also tried calming treats, calming collars, calming vests, keeping him away from seeing the door, shock collars w/ remotes, shock collars w/out remotes, shock collars for barking, and calling around to dog behavioral specialists for their input. Anything you could think of I tried. When he was on his anxiety medicine, he was just more tired than usual, but he still had his “crazy modes”. More Attacks: My boyfriend and I took him on a 5-mile hike. When we got home, we gave him his anxiety medicine and our friends came to our house. My dog loves our friends because we would go over to their house and both of our dogs would love playing. They were best friends. He would always be skeptical with people at first, but not them. We were in the basement watching tv when my roommate had dropped something upstairs. When this happened, my pregnant friend was walking past the TV to sit down from using the bathroom. Once my dog heard that noise, he immediately sprung up and jumped at her. I dragged my dog down and laid on him so he wouldn’t try and attack her. He was whining hysterically. I was not letting go of him at this moment until he settled down. My boyfriend got up to walk her to the bedroom (so she would be safe from him just in case) and our dog snapped at him. It ripped his jeans and he had torn through the skin as well. None of his bites were deep enough for stitches, but they were all bad enough to draw blood and leave scares. He had his anxiety collar on, he had calming treats prior to the attack, he was on his medication, and he also had just been on a 5-mile hike, and he STILL reacted that way. Another time he attacked was when my boyfriend and I were lying in bed and there was a noise upstairs. Our dog slept with us because he was very spoiled and loved cuddling with us. When our dog heard this noise, he went into attack mode. We were able to hold him down, but that was the last morning we woke up with him in our bed. We bought a crate for him to sleep in just in case anything would escalate further during the morning or night. Another Vet Visit: We went back to the vet to see if we could do anything else for him and his behavior. The vet just recommended different people we could talk too, and I also had mentioned getting him neutered. At this point I thought neutering would help him. He’s stronger now, so hopefully he can get neutered. He was finally able to get neutered. I thought this would work, but it didn’t. If anything, it just made him more fat. I had been through so much with him that I was still in denial. I was not going to give up on him. When I was in college and had a bad day, I would always love going home and being alone. However, I wasn’t alone. Every time I would cry or have a bad day, he was always there by my side. The good thing about dogs is that they can’t talk. I would sit there on some days and just cry. When he knew I was sad, he would walk over to me and put his head on me. Even though he couldn’t talk, it still felt like I wasn’t completely alone. He made my bad days seem not so bad. I think it was just him realizing when I was sad and comforting me by laying there had helped me. I wasn’t going to give up on him so I thought what else could I do. We bought him a muzzle. Thinking to myself that this would for sure work. At first, it did. It helped us not get bit, but he still acted crazy during random times. My boyfriend and I were constantly anxious. Even when we were just watching Tv with the dog beside us, we were still nervous. You just NEVER KNEW when he would have his crazy moments. A year has passed, and he is now 4. My boyfriend is now my fiancé. We also have moved back home from college. We don’t have any roommates and are renting a house. FINALLY, a house I thought. My fiancés dad built us a fence for our dog so he could be outside and get use to the noises and enjoy outside. Thinking this would help…. It didn’t. He would still go into his crazy modes at random times. It was always so scary. It was just weird to me that most of the time, he was the perfect dog, but then other times he was a complete nightmare. When it would thunder and lightning, he would go crazy. When he was younger, he would just be scared and shake, now he would be scared and attack.  When this happened, we would just put him in the bedroom and shut the door. When people would come over, we would just put him in the room. He also would have to wear his muzzle whenever he was around us. He still acts out, but now he goes into a whine before he goes into attack mode. Whenever he whines, we know we must be careful. Whenever he starts to whine, before it escalates you can just see that whatever is causing him to act like this he’s terrified of. He was acting out of fear and didn’t know how to control it. We know he acts out on loud noises, but how can you stop loud noises from outside? Things my fiancé and I couldn’t control. Thunder, a doorbell ringing, car honking etc. In my head, I still defended him though. I would think “id fear thunder too... or id fear a fire alarm. I knew he was scared, but to act out on it and attack us was a whole other level of scared. And whenever you tell someone about him attacking it’s easy for them to say “oh he needs put down” or “he’s too dangerous” or “he’s just a dog” but to me he was an emotional support system that helped me go through life. Anyways, recently he’s been showing more and more of his “crazy mode”. My fiancé had friends over and I took our dog past them (with the muzzle on) to go to the bathroom and our dog was excited to see them (which he usually is with certain people). I told my fiancé to bring him back inside once he was done using the bathroom and put him in the crate. Our dog ran back to the bedroom and when he was in the doorway my fiancé grabbed his collar (which we always do) to get him to go into his crate. Instead of our dog being okay with this, he went into his “crazy mode” (without the muzzle on). It was scary to see it right in front of my face happening to someone else. My fiancé was able to pin him down but still he had never done that when we just grabbed his collar. My fiancé now had marks on his arm from when he attacked him from just grabbing his collar. When I’m at work (work from home) and it thunders, I just pet my dog and say its okay… at first that worked well and he would fall asleep and calm him, but now I try it and he is so scared that he tries and bites me. And it’s weird because when you yell at him it just makes him want to attack you more, so we have to be calm when he’s in his attack mode or it gets 10x worse (trust me I know.) anyways… We just recently contacted the animal shelter to see if they knew someone who could handle this issue from other dogs. We even asked if they knew of places to take him. They were very honest with their answer. They had told us that he is too aggressive now to be brought back into another home. So, after a long story…. I just don’t know what to do. I have considered putting him down, but it is so hard to think of him not being here with me. He’s asleep in his crate right now, but how do I look at him knowing that I might have to put him down any day now? The worst thing is that I’ve tried and tried to help him or find a solution and nothing has helped. I know putting him down is my only option now, but I think it’s going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. He’s been with me for 3 years now. When I wake up, I see him, throughout my day I see him, nighttime I see him. How can I just go one day and not see him or take care of him? Many people think of dogs being just a dog, but to me he is my family. I feel heartbroken, I honestly do. I always pray to God to help me with this decision bit its so hard for me to let go. I think that’s one of the hardest things to do in life and that’s to let go. Especially to something that has been apart of your life for years. I keep thinking am I selfish? Is he in pain and can’t tell me? Am I holding onto him because on my own selfishness? Will I be doing the right thing? I just don’t know these answers…. I used to be such a calm person and be able to control how I was feeling but now my anxiety has gotten out of control. I can’t stop being anxious about everything and I hate to say it, but it could be from my dog acting this way. My doctor had asked me what has gotten me so anxious and depressed and I had though about it when he asked and I didn’t know because at that point I had moved back home (where my family lived) just got engaged, graduated college, got an “adult” job, renting a house, I’m healthy, I had no clue, but sitting here typing this I thinks its from my dogs behavior. Not being able to control his behavior or how he feels when he’s in those moods or even trying everything and still not able to help him is so frustrating. Having to live everyday in your own house constantly worrying making sure nothing is too loud or where the dog is or if anyone is going to ring the doorbell or someone beeping their car horn. Even if I’m getting up too fast, is he going to attack or if you yell in your own house Is he going to attack?  And if that does happen or a loud noise occurs, how do I grab the dog without him biting me or causing more dangerous outcome is not the way to live life. I know I need to call a vet and explain his situation to them and see if I should put him down. If its time for him to go then ill must accept it no matter how hard it will be. Thank you for reading this long story and if anyone has any ways to deal with grievance or how you felt during putting your dog down, please reach out to me.

Tammy Moses
August 30, 2021

Hello Kom…I am so sorry you are going through this.  I am still heartbroken and missing my sweet boy Terry everyday.  When I spoke to the rescue organization and they told me he couldn’t be rehomed due to biting history and recommended euthanasia.  As difficult as those words were to here I called my vet, they where already somewhat aware of my situation and explained that it had gotten much worse in the last week and he was biting me to the point of bleeding…all unprovoked.  They made the appointment and had to report to animal control.  Animal control called me for details and he assured me that Terry was not well, he had the same situation a few years ago and Terry deserved peace.  Have you called your vet? Explained exactly what is going on?  The vet that put Terry down was a pediatric vet…she said she was alarmed by the visible bite marks on me and that his aggressive behavior would have gotten worse with age.

Phyllis DeGioia
August 27, 2021

Hi Joyce, You are definitely not alone. I'm sorry to hear of your experience and sorrow, but if you are a dog lover - which it sounds like you certainly are - you will most likely change your mind and want another dog. I understand the hesitation, the fears about the next day, and feeling like a failure for not only picking out a dog with a dicey temperament, but also because I couldn't change anything.  I worried about the next dog for a long time - seven years, to be exact. And now I have the sweetest, most charming dog you can imagine, with a stubborn yet mild temperament. It took much, much longer than I expected, but for me, part of it was that I was spending so much money on my cat, who was always ill. You may not have noticed the link, but I did write about getting the new dog at Some day, somehow, some similar path will come to you and you will open your heart and home to some deserving, sweet dog who will make you happy and never bite you or anyone else. Please take care of yourself, Joyce.

Tammy Moses
August 26, 2021

I am so glad I found this site.  I rescued my sweet boy Terry 4 months ago, he was 7 months old.  The first 3 months were typical puppy.  He had lots of energy, chewed, and some puppy biting and was very loving.!  Terry did have some anxiety issues, had some scars and was clearly abused.  The last month was awful.  He became more anxious by the day and started lunging at me, pulling at my clothes when exposed to too many triggers on walks.  I spoke to trainers, behaviorists and my vet.  I live in an urban environment and tried to walk him on quiet streets to avoid triggers.  He could be so sweet and loved other dogs and people…everyone commented on how sweet he was.  His anxiety continued to worsen.  The vet put him on trazodone as I was waiting for an emergency appointment with a vet behaviorist.  He began lunging at me, ripping my clothes and biting to the point of bleeding.  He did this primarily during or right after a walk.  In my apartment he would go after my feet, arms and legs.  I was afraid of my sweet dog and kept thinking tomorrow will be better, he’s a baby.  I was constantly in tears, had no life…it was all about Terry.  Last Friday night we came in from our walk, he was excited to see 2 dogs leaving and after they left he lunged at me, shredded my shirt and bit me in 5 places, all bled. I reached out to the rescue organization in hopes of re-homing but of course that could never happen due to his history of biting.  After speaking to my vet I made the decision to euthanize my sweet boy.  She said that his behavior is not normal, he was wired wrong and that both Terry and I deserve peace.  I held him at the end giving him lots of love and kisses.  The day I put him down I watched him get worse by the hour.  The opening of a kitchen drawer sent him into a frenzy.  I am devastated that this was the end of our story but know I did what was right for both of us.

Joyce Kocsis
August 26, 2021

UPDATE: I posted on May 28.I brought an aggressive dog back to the shelter.I failed to mention that I had the dog for six weeks and tried behavioral therapy. Despite that, the dog still bit me every day. I’m sitting here in August missing my dog who died and I’m wondering if I will ever get another dog. I am so afraid that I will have the same issues. Reading these posts has been a comfort because I know I’m not alone.

August 23, 2021

Hi. Any advice on where to start? We’ve come to the decision that euthanizing our aggressive dog is our only option. He’s but my boyfriend twice and lashed out on him multiple times. And for the worst incident he bit me right in the face. Leaving em with 11 stitches. He’s always been a “good” dog. And at the time I begged my boyfriend to giving him another chance bc I believed we could fix him. He hasn’t bit us since but that’s because we always keep him at a safe distance. We no longer cuddle him or ever put my face anywhere near him. And bow we have a baby and can’t risk his safety. Rehoming isn’t an option, I couldn’t imagine him hurting anyone the way he did me. Anyway we tried calling a few pet clinics and they’ve all turned us away when we ask if they euthanize aggressive dogs. So we feel lost in what steps to take next.

Bonnie Harris
August 20, 2021

On July 1st, I took my beloved 11 lb. 5-year-old black miniature Poodle, Harvey into the vet clinic.  Initially, it was an appointment for an ear infection and to get a renewal of anti-anxiety medication that I had placed him on previously.  This past year with Covid, not going anywhere and no one really coming to my home, his dominance aggression was escalating.   If someone did come to visit, I would have to put him in my car.   A couple months previous, he attacked me while I was on the floor playing with him – bit right through the hard section of my ear.   If I dropped something on the floor, he would attack unannounced.  I inadvertently stepped on his toes and he attacked my feet.  I have three grandchildren, two are under the age of 2.  I loved this guy.  I can’t believe I had to put him to sleep.  It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  At the vet appointment, I told the doctor all that had transpired.  Harvey had shown this type of aggression starting at 3 months of age.  I had a behaviorist come into my home and he just shook his head – saying that it would be very hard to correct his nature.  The veterinarian said she would authorize putting him down for his aggression stating also that rehoming was not an option and it wouldn’t even be an option for me either.  July 1st, he didn’t come home with me.  I made the right head decision; my heart hasn’t gotten there yet.  I have another puppy coming into my life in a couple months.  I did vigorous research for one that would have the least likely hood of being aggressive.  I’ve read training books, watched YouTube tutorials, I just can’t ever have this happen again.  I’d get a rescue but am so scared for that.  I miss Harvey’s good stuff.  I know he loved me; he just couldn’t get around his malady.  This website has been very healing for me.  Thank you for all your stories, so good to know that I am not alone in my grief.

Phyllis DeGioia
August 16, 2021

Shari, I understand the concern, but I absolutely promise you that you will not forget all the wonderful characteristics of Mona - what made you laugh, what made you suddenly draw in your breath, and all those bonding moments - any more than you would a dog that had a 100% friendly disposition. I *promise.* In my dreams still see Dodger running gracefully across the hills, or finishing my coffee if I turned away from it, or backing up to me when I was using the toilet for a butt rub (it is a brilliant plan, the person is obviously not doing anything else). Mona will always be in your heart.

August 15, 2021

UPDATE: I haven’t actually seen any updates posted here, but I thought I would try anyway.  We did have Mona euthanized and it was honestly the worst thing I’ve ever done in my life.  But I also know in my heart it was necessary and the only thing we could do. I still have horrific flashbacks of when she viciously bit my husband’s hand- it could have easily been his face, as he was laying down and she was near his head when she attacked his hand. That is one of the many reasons I know there was no other option.  It was very emotional and awful and hard, but my daughter and I held her as it happened because we truly loved her with all our heart, and we didn’t want her to be alone in the end.  I still come back to this site because it really does help to see we are not alone.  Mike’s post from June 21, 2021 could have been mine.  So similar.  Strange coincidence that it was the same breed.  I realize I’m an unusually emotional person, but I still find myself crying when I remember a habit she had or when I find a toy we forgot to put away or I come home and don’t see her waiting in the driveway for me (I was her favorite human ☹ ).  I worry that in time I will forget all the great things about her. But I am thankful that I took so many pictures and snap chat videos of her.  God bless all of you for posting your stories.  It helps to see we’re not alone.  Again, I’m still utterly devastated and I wish I could have fixed her. I loved Mona with all my heart.

August 5, 2021

Thank you for having the courage to write this article. Big dog lover here (have fostered and owned several and currently have 4 big dogs), but even I pause when I hear about these dogs attacks and there are still people out there trying to simply advocate for some kind of therapy for the attack dogs. I have a dog - large German shorthair pointer/hunting dog mix - that I adopted when she was 9 months old and there were many times I almost rehomed her, but I didn't trust that someone would be able to deal with her issues. Since day 1 (and it's now 4 years later), she has been food aggressive with my other dogs, still growls at them when they come in the room, she's super territorial of me and does not like other dogs coming around me, etc. I work from home and if I didn't I would have given her up a long time ago because she requires constant supervision, otherwise I would not trust her around my other dogs or our cat (all of whom are mild mannered). I truly believe this dog is either hard-wired to be aggressive or must have had some experiences in the first 9 months of her life that have caused her to be this way where she is threatened by nearly everything. She makes a good guard dog, incidentally but it's due to her fear of anything and everything that approaches. We were at a dog park one time and a man brought in a wolf hybrid that was giving off a quiet but aggressive vibe and that dog got within 20 feet of me and this dog of mind barked him back until he would only pace along the fence line of the dog park. Anywho, I don't think she's as bad as some of the cases I'm reading about here, but I think if she were left more to her own devices she would be worse and possibly in need of more extreme action if her aggression progressed. I hope it never gets to that. :-(

August 1, 2021

I’m glad I found this article. My now wife and I adopted our terrier mix tucker in January of 2020. Within the first month he had bit me twice, and since he is my first dog I didn’t realize how big of a problem that was. Things only got worse because I had to deploy for just under 2 months the day after the second bite happened. While I was away, tucker bit Amy multiple times because of resource guarding and when I got back the aggression quickly turned back towards me and some male friends of mine. We hired a trainer and talked with our vet about medication but neither worked. In January he bit me in the face giving me 8 stitches in the upper lip (this was the worst incident) we tried to minimize incidents by keeping him off of furniture but he would cry and pace the floor and scratch himself raw so after a few weeks we caved and let him back on furniture. Luckily everything was quiet for the last few months other than a few small outbursts that were only close calls but about a week ago he bit the maintenance man just for coming in the apartment. He loves the maintenance man, who has been in our apartment multiple times and tucker was always friendly with him. But this time tucker jumped up and bit his hand the moment he walked in the door. It has been a really hard week with a lot of emotions deciding what to do, especially since Amy and I got married 2 days after the last incident, but we have a baby on the way and we can’t risk him hurting the baby. I still haven’t come to terms with it, but this article does help a little bit. I can’t in good conscience put him up for adoption knowing that he might do the same thing to somebody else. He’s a very sweet dog most of the time and he’s bonded to us, and at least if we’re the ones to put him down he’ll be more comfortable. I’m not happy that I have to do this and I don’t think it’s fair, but is anything truly fair? I haven’t been able to cuddle with my wife since I came back from deployment in may of 2020 and I’m using that along with the baby as my consolation but it still hurts a lot. I didn’t think this is how things would go with my first dog. 

July 29, 2021

I am reading all these stories and it is heartbreaking. I am currently going through something similar. My 1 year old border collie has had issues since we brought her home at 2 months.  She was my first puppy and I bought her from what he claimed to be "a breeder" but on arrival I was concerned for the environment but I took her anyway. She has bit or attempted to bite countless people. One time my husband in the face, no stitches needed and she has never bit any family member ever since then. However she has tried to bite friends, bit my mother, my son's girlfriend and now a neighbor, and on occasion attacks other animals. Especially in our home. We have sent her to a reputable trainer for a board and train, we have installed an invisible fence recently had her fixed. Still, the most recent bite was my neighbors shin. Thank god no stitches and hopefully no lawsuit, but right now I have her with a woman who is going to work with her for the next week to see can she be re-homed. It would have to be the ideal environment - no kids, no people continually coming in and out, quiet life. We are not that 4 kids lots of activity lots of friends.  So this is what we are trying to do but we know it is probably not realistic. She is such a loving dog- wonderful in our family really we are not concerned with her at all and she even has gotten over my mother in law bing here so she has the ability to bond and love people over time.  I cannot put her down yet but I fear this may be my only option in the end. We keep talking about all the things we need to do from now on. Like when people are over she is locked away. Period. What kind of life can she have - I know many times we are here  with no distractions but then there are times we are busy with kids and activity and she has to be boarded or away? It just seems so unrealistic.  Any advice - any opinions are appreciated.

July 12, 2021

I’m so grateful that I found this website.  I am struggling so much with guilt and sorrow about what I know we have to do.  As I write this, my beautiful 5 1/2 yr old Aussie/Retriever mix, Mona, is sitting beside me, not knowing that in 2 days she will put down.  We adopted her from a rescue group when she was around 8-9 weeks old.  While she did have some crazy behavior issues as a puppy, we luckily found a wonderful trainer/behavioral therapist that was able to help us correct most of the problems.  She really is the perfect dog…98 percent of the time.  Her biting first started when she was a couple of years old.  She bit the hand of a girl we hired to watch her while we were on vacation.  Mona was laying on the ground, looking like she wanted a belly rub.  The sitter reached down and without warning, Mona bit her hand, and drew blood.  The same situation happened with us and other friends a couple more times.   We thought she was just scared of someone reaching down when she was on the ground, so we warned everyone not to pet her that way.  We also talked to her therapist again and started implementing more techniques to build her confidence and counter condition her. She is a smart dog and learned new things very quickly.  She never misbehaves, doesn’t try to steal food, has never damaged and furniture.  She really is the perfect dog….  Except for the biting.  I’m ashamed to admit that at times I have tried to make excuses for her biting, that we did something that triggered her.  But really, that’s not true.  There is no common trigger we can find.  Since implementing strong rules about how we behave around her, she has still bitten our family members 7 times.  My father-in-law had to go to the emergency room.  My husband should have, but I begged him not to because I didn’t want Mona to be put down (Since she was already in the system as a biter with my father-in-law).  Each bite has been without warning and different scenarios – picking up something near her, removing a collar, petting her, etc.  Nothing that would even remotely be scary to her.  My daughters and husband have scars on their hands.  Even through all this, none of us WANT to put her down.  The most recent bite incident was last weekend.  My daughter had been petting her and she seemed completely blissful, then in an instant she snapped her head around a bit her hand multiple times.  After this last incident, I had a breakdown and decided we couldn’t keep doing this.  Not only do I not want her to hurt my family anymore, but I worry about strangers.  My family does everything right around her and we still get bit.  No stranger or even friends will be as stringent with the rules.  Also, there is the liability if she does bite someone, and does some real damage.  Are we ready to lose everything?  There are so many other ways her biting has affected our lives.  We don’t have friends over, or if we do, she must be crated the entire time.  I don’t feel comfortable having family stay overnight at our house, because at some point she has to leave the crate to eat, etc.  Our daughters’ friends (some who had been bitten early on) are scared to come over if she is not crated.  We can’t go on vacation because I don’t feel safe leaving her with anyone else.  We are scared to even walk her near other people because we never know if she will attack.  I’ve looked into any alternatives to euthanasia, and I just don’t see any good options.  She’s a high-level biter, has bit quite a few people, and worst gives NO warning that she is going to attack.  I spoke with her therapist yesterday and he said there is absolutely no way to guarantee she won’t bite again.  We could try medication, but the only way to know if that works is to wait and see.  Well, the seeing would be another bite, which I’m not willing to do.  He also said counter conditioning can’t really be used on her, because she gives no warning and it’s never the same trigger.  Also, she is not a candidate for re-homing because of her history.  I’m utterly devastated.  I love this dog and I wish I could fix her.

Lisa Dush
July 7, 2021

Thanks so much for this site and your comments. I am really struggling with my Australian Sheppard, who is 18 months and the most protective and loving dog imaginable. Unlike many of your stories, he is never aggressive or bites at any family members, except for a light, annoyance bite. But he is very aggressive towards anyone who comes into the house and he has bit several people (no blood drawn), suddenly and without warning or provocation. Recently, however, he was outside on his leash and he suddenly lunged at and bit my sister-in-law, causing considerable pain and swelling / bruising. I live in a suburb, and three minutes ago he pulled away from me suddenly (he is 80 pounds and was on a leash), ran across the street and started barking and snarling at a family with two small children, and two dogs. I ran terrified across the street, and he nipped at me when I grabbed his leash. He has chased other people down the street when he has slipped out the door. Our vet suggested medicine, yet says it's uncertain if this will diminish his aggression in a lasting way. I took him to a highly regarded trainer, who said after a month of intense training and $3500, he will be better, but there is still no guarantee he will ever be safe around strangers. I can't move to the country, and Rescue groups are not responding. I am so despondent and I don't know what to do, especially since his behavior is not as extreme as much of what's described here.

July 2, 2021

Reading this helped me so much. I just said goodbye to my sweet Athena, a couple of hours ago. I found her on the street, 7 years ago. She was emaciated but friendly. I brought her to animal control and she was chipped but the owner wouldn't respond. Animal Control gave her 5 days to be adopted or put down. I adopted her rather than see her die. She had food aggression issues, we worked though that but I got nipped in the beginning. She was scared of brooms, but we worked through that. She was scared of fireworks and for a few weeks wouldn't turn right to go around the block that way when we heard some around the 4th of July, we worked through that too. After a few failures and some scrabbles with the couple of cats I had, we decided to keep her separated from them at all times, but once a cat snuck past the gate and she bit him and his nerve in his arm didn't work for 6 weeks. We thought we'd have to amputate the cat's foot, but by with physical therapy and anti-inflammatory meds, full function was finally restored. we discussed rehoming and euthanasia at that time, but no good resources were available that weren't literal years of waiting or a situation where I didn't think she'd get more understanding and trained people than us. So we redoubled our efforts for years until I could hug and kiss her al the time so we thought she was finally better. one time was all it took. I was rubbing her belly and went to hug her There was no warning. I didn't even understand she was biting me for a second or two. She clamped my forehead and shook, and the only way I got her off of me was to grab each jaw with each hand and when I had to let go with one hand to hold my forehead on, She chomped my right hand a few times and by then my husband reached us and pulled her off. 28 stitches in my forehead and I'm just lucky my face is still on. After conversations with family, friends and the vet, all of which knew her for years, we all agreed this was the most merciful decision for her. We couldn't give her to to a rescue, the list is too long, and her breed only lives to about 12. And she'd be so hurt and confused. And if she hurt another family, I couldn't live with myself. She was my constant companion and I feel like I betrayed her, when I know I did the right thing. I was the one she ran to when the thunder scared her. I was the one she followed from room to room. I am so heartbroken. She deserved better. I wish I had been her original owner, her life would have been so different. At least I gave her about 50 good dog years she wouldn't have otherwise had. I love her in spite of everything. She had a wonderful heart but just couldn't overcome her ptsd, even with years and years of trying.

June 21, 2021

Sadly we had to say goodbye to our young Australian Shephard mix Murphy this past weekend.  We tried so hard to help him, but every time we thought we solved a problem, a new one would surface.  We got to a point that we didn't know when he would snap, and who the next victim would be.  I lost count how many times he bit me: cutting out matted fur behind his year, taking away a piece of plastic trash, passing a TV remote over his head as he lay on the couch, trying to wash off his dirty paws, reaching under the couch to pick up an empty water bottle.  Everything set him off, but there was no consistency.  We can do something ten times and everything was fine, but on the eleventh time, he would black out and relentlessly attack. I was willing to bare the scars to keep him alive, but we could not go on living in constant fear.  We thought we were in the clear, then once again he attacked and bit my wife few days ago when she tried to take away a shoe. We loved Murphy so much and euthanizing him was the last thing we wanted to do. I will never understand how a creature that is so loved and cared for literally bites the hand that feeds him.  This was a gut-wrenching decision, and it will take a long time for us to heal and to move on.  Every  minute someone in the house is crying when a tennis ball, or an empty bottle that Murphy loved to play with rolls from under the couch.  There are memories of our silly Murphy all around us and every memory brings on pain.  Thank you for this story and the posts, this is a difficult and a taboo topic to discuss, but it is healing to know that we are not alone facing this situation.

June 19, 2021

This may sound odd, but I actually take comfort in this not because of any similar experience with a pet. But because of my struggle with trusting myself to make good relationship decisions with potentially bad or just emotionally unhealthy *people* after experiencing an abusive marriage. Your description of how you felt in the aftermath was very like the way I felt after my own "final parting moment" with someone I had so trusted, loved and been invested in. There is indeed a lot of "failure" shame. But seeing in the updates how you first begun to and then continued to heal was very heartening. I hope my journey continues to mirror yours in that regard. So, while I am sorry that you experienced such sadness and pain and uncertainty, I am also grateful you shared your story and I happened to run across it (while searching for something else, ain't that always the way it goes?). I wish you continued wellness in the future.

Roxana Cipriani
June 15, 2021

Scrolling down and reading these stories is helping me grief with my decision. My 7.5 year old bully mix attacked my 2yr old daughter. I can’t get that memory of my head of how he attacked her, they were friends and had started a bond. After reading many of these stories I can say my poor boy probably suffer from anxiety. It was not his first attack that  he bit a child but never as severe as he bit my daughter on her left cheek and throat. We always made excuses when he bit someone and even when he attacked our beagle it we loved him so much we were blinded by the reality of truth he was unpredictable. We could never have guest or kids around or even worse other animals. I had anxiety over him running out the house and biting or worse killing our neighbors kids playing outside. He was never taught to be aggressive. We have a 9 yr old beagle he grew up with and she’s a sweet dog and they got along well until he attacked her a few times.  I still feel guilty that we made that decision but seeing my daughter recover with minor scars I need to think that it could’ve been a tragedy. Even though I break down when I see a picture of him I can rest easy knowing he will not attack anyone else. I still can’t see a tennis ball without crying because that was he’s favorite toy to play fetch and run around. My gray boy I’m hoping he’s at peace. Thank you everyone for sharing your stories.

June 16, 2021

I'm so happy I found this page. We have to euthanize our agressive 15 month old pit, Claire. It's been a very hard few days since we made the decision but understand that the safety of my loved ones is more important. Still very hard. She is scheduled for 6/16 at 5:30.

Phyllis DeGioia
June 14, 2021

Hi folks, Phyllis DeGioia here. Found a similar article just published on Slate that you may like to read at The author also mentions a Facebook support group for folks in this situation called Losing Lulu. Might help some of us to participate. Also, my new rescue collie, Sierra, is as gentle as can be and I am head over heels in love with her!

June 13, 2021

Thank you

June 11, 2021

We have just gone through this heart breaking experience with our 2.5 year old Bernedoodle.  Like many of you, his aggression started with severe resource guarding.  We worked very hard with training and deconditioning him to no avail.  His resource guarding and aggression escalated.  He started to guard me and certain doorways in our home.  He was very aggressive towards our 11 year old son.  He would snarl and react if he even opened his door to come out of his room.  He would ask me "mom, is it safe?"  This past weekend he attacked our son, simply because the wind blew the back door closed.  He left bruises on him.  At that point we knew that we could no longer live in fear (especially our child) in our own home.  We made the appointment.  For several days I questioned if we were doing the right thing.  The day before the appointment I simply walked by him as he chewed a bag... he attacked me viciously, biting my arm multiple times and trapping me in the bathroom.  He continued to snarl and bark at the door.   Yesterday we ended the suffering.  There is no feeling to describe letting him go, or the emptiness that I feel.  This is the goofy doodle, who was loved by all people and dogs.  This is the boy who licked our tenants nose through the railings and the boy who slept on his back with all 4 feet up in the air.  He simply could not cope with his demons.  I don't know why.  The experts tell me it is just really bad luck.  There is an ache in my heart, and I don't know if it will ever go away.  I hope that one day I can forgive myself and picture my boy running with his ears flapping behind him.  I love you Nard dog.

Leslie Lynch
June 8, 2021

We are struggling wit this as I type. Our Husky rescue has been challenging due to his aggressive behavior. We don't know al of his history, other than he was abandoned by his owner and bounced around for 3 mos before we adopted him from a private party. He had a leg injury and still had the cone on when we met him. No one seems to know what caused the injury. He also had a strap harness on that we had to cut off while he was sleeping. He wouldn't let us touch his neck/collar for 3 yrs without growling or snapping at us. He has not bit anyone else in our presences, but he has bitten us several us several times. He's very stubborn, so anything we do to get him to do results in a fight. It's to the point where the house is so stressful that our quality of life has suffered. He does great with other dogs. We have 3 other huskies and he's great with them. He plays well at the park and doggy daycare. He just makes it so tough for us in the house. We never know when he's going to snap. We've tried positive reinforcement, but he just manipulates us with that now. Again, we have 3 other Huskies and know the breed very well so know they can be stubborn, but this guy is borderline dangerous for us.

Phyllis DeGioia
June 4, 2021

Erik, I am so sorry for your loss, and understand completely how it feels. In my opinion, you did what you had to in order to protect yourself, your family, and your other pets as well as other people. And for what it's worth, I agree that you will never really know why, as even if you'd had a necropsy you might not be able to know. But what difference does it make? It's not like if you knew why you could have changed the eventual outcome. I can also see where euthanizing him yourself would be extraordinarily difficult emotionally, and not something the vast majority of pet owners would be able to handle at all. You are right -eventually only the best memories will remain; I still think of Dodger running gracefully along hills or stalking robins, and it makes my heart swell with joy. Unfortunately, it will likely take longer than you think it should. Please take care of yourselves this weekend and remind yourself that human safety is the most important thing of all.

June 3, 2021

My family and I are going through one of the worst periods of grief we have ever experienced. Our 27 month old, 160 lb Cane Corso puppy had been getting more and more aggressive over the last several months. We brought him home when he was 7 weeks old. At around 4 months old, he started showing signs of resource guarding. We tried our best to help him overcome his issues, but nothing ever worked. We ultimately decided it was best to simply keep him separate from our other dogs and people while he ate. We also stopped giving treats to any of our dogs to prevent him from feeling as though he needed to act out. Before he even turned one year old, he had already started attacking another one of our dogs over the belief that the other might somehow get a piece of dropped food. This happened more than once, causing a lot of vet bills to have our other dog's wounds cleaned and stapled shut. Around this time, he also started biting us in random, unprovoked attacks. These attacks started out as warning bites, without breaking the skin. They soon progressed to full puncture wounds in our hands. All of these attacks were completely blindsiding, as they were spontaneous, happening randomly while we were petting him. 99% of the time, he was the perfect dog. Then, from out of nowhere, he would attack. Just since February, he attacked me 3 times. One led to me having to be admitted into the hospital for surgery after he chased me through the house until he was able to put teeth into my skin. Just last week, he attacked me for the final time. I simply walked past him, lightly dragging my hand across his back when he turned and attacked. My wife and I had already agreed (while I was in the hospital) that if it happens one more time, that we would have to put him down. We believe he had a neurological issue, possibly a brain tumor. I recently came across a study that points to a possible cause of his issues being the Bravecto flea and tick treatment we had been administering to him every 3 months. We have no way of knowing for sure. I believe my grief is worse due to the fact that I personally was the one to put him down. Due to the expense of all my recent medical bills, it would have been a financial struggle to be able to afford the vet visit to euthanize. So, with that in mind, I took it upon myself to do the deed. The only solace I have in this, is I know that he did not suffer, and he never knew it was coming. However, in hindsight, I now know that my actions only made things worse for us, because it is no longer a decision that “we” made together, but rather a decision “I” made. I know the end result would have always been the same, but the way his life ended will always leave a hole in my heart. At 160 lb., he could have easily killed my wife, my son or myself. As the attacks were becoming more frequent, and more violent, it was only a matter of time before one of us would have experienced a more life altering tragedy. I will always love and miss the puppy I raised, but only time will heal the pain I feel today. Rest in Peace Kona Hoa! You brought so much joy into our lives. In time, I know the pain will fade, and only the best memories will remain. I will continue to look forward to that day.

June 1, 2021

Thank you for sharing your story and for all those who have commented and shared theirs. Last night our almost 13 year old lab husky mix bit my husband’s face as he was petting him. It was a totally normal moment, with no warning signs. The bite left a few puncture wounds and a long scrape under the jaw. It was a hard bite. Our dog came to us at 2.5 years from our local humane society after a not so great start. He had a couple of incidences of snapping early on, but with a lot of work, he has been a great dog....very people friendly and gentle. He has struggled with other dogs, being reactive with many, pinning a few but never biting. He eventually made a few canine friends and we have been extremely selective about his interactions with other animals so have had no mishaps. Over the last several months, we have seen signs of aggression without warning - snapping at my husband and daughters, and less tolerant of my daughter's dog that he knows well. He does suffer from arthritis and we have him on several different meds to help, recently increasing the dosage in one and having started chiropractor sessions too. We also had his blood work done to look for underlying medical issues, which revealed nothing. I am totally heart broken that I feel we have exhausted all measures and the aggression has escalated. I love this dog with all my heart, but feel we have no choice but to put him down. I could not live with myself if he bit another person. I have a call into the vet and am waiting to hear back. Utterly gut wrenching.... Thank you for letting me know I am not alone in this terrible experience. It helps.

May 28, 2021

I recently returned a dog to the shelter. He was food and leash aggressive. He bit me several times through even leather work gloves. He bit an elderly neighbor in the foot. Luckily she was protected by shoes. My dog sitter would never care for him, I asked the shelter about behavior before taking him and they said  there were no issues. My last rescue dog was with me 11 years and died from cancer. I feel like a failure and I will not adopt again. People think I am the villain here, but I tried my best.

Amber McKinley
May 26, 2021

We just had to do the same thing with our 2 year old Aussie. Constantly attacking other dogs, us and wary around certain kids. He was good around my nephew, he loved him and wanted to be around him all the time. It first started with us. He had bit us many times and we put it off as him being a herding dog. Then it went to the other animals. He killed a cat a few months ago. We finally had it last week when he almost killed our older dog. He would have if we didn't get them off eachother in time. With no actual reason to attack anyone, he would just go right at it. No bark, growl just straight for the kill. My daughter, niece and nephew were outside playing at the time when it happened. He did not acknowledge that. We truly believe he would have went after one of them next after we got him off the dog. Like he has done many other times, went after the one of other dogs after getting out of a fight with our older. If a dog barked at a car going by or someone showing up to the house, he would attack them. We had tried separating but it was hard when there's 2 adults and 1 toddler and remembering which door this dog is it. He was suffering mentally. At times, I feel at peace because I knew he was suffering but others I feel sad because maybe we could have helped him although I know that more than likely not the case. We tried dog pounds, rescues and specific Aussie rescues to take him and they wouldn't due to his aggressiveness and not letting anyone outside of the house near him. We had him put down Monday afternoon after trying for so long to get him help. I had researched like crazy on Aussie groups and forums, google, books etc. We miss him terribly. It is quiet here now. I hope he our dog Rocky is at peace. He was wired wrong, no fault to his own. I believe he was badly bred. I will always cherish the good memories we had with him.  

May 11, 2021

I have not returned to this site for 7 years since I posted in 2014 when we decided to have our beloved Max  euthanized. My blessings go out to everyone experiencing this very heart rendering, but vital decision. Max was advertised as a Malamute Husky, but on receiving his shots, etc., at 4 months' of age in 2007 the vet told me he was a Wolf hybrid and should be "up there" meaning euthanized. I won't go into the whole story again, but suffice to say over a 7 year period 2007-2014 I tried everything, consultations, training, but his behavior was so unpredicable it was like "walking on eggshells". He didn't bite me, but other family members, curled his lip and more. Anyone visiting he had to be placed in another room. I exercised him every day; he was never on a chain or tied up. He was loving, of course, at times, but the unpredictability made me feel ill, quite literally. We have three sons, and my oldest at the time was 31 yo in 2014 and it took him a good while to understand and, I think, forgive me as to why I had decided on euthanization. I was on the floor crying over Max's body at the vets when it was over; the guilt is tremendous, but I know it was the right decision. Here I am, 7 years later with my memories. It gets easier as time passes but they're never forgotten. God Bless everyone going through this.

May 11, 2021

My daughter sent me this blog after I told her and her sister we have made the very difficult decision to put down one of our dogs because of aggressive behavior. I have never read anything that more accurately related what it feels like to have a dog that you adore, and adores you, that then turns on you.  Our dog had some trauma in his developmental stage of being a puppy and I think it messed him up forever. We had made progress after adopting him but then he needed a surgery and I had to be his caregiver and it was never the same after that. He just learned not to trust and we couldn’t undo it because his issues came from medical professionals and then me when I had to care for him. I think he related us with his pain because things that had to be done were painful. Sweet, reassuring talk only set off warning bells for him. He became completely distrustful of hands and being touched. We have had him now for seven years and have worked every possible angle to try to deal with his biting. It is frequent, it is without warning, and it has gone from a quick turn and bite with deliberateness but then running away in shame and confusion by his own reaction, to more vicious. He’s small so we thought we could just keep managing it. It used to be that if he knew what you were going to do, for instants, remove his collar, you could tell him and it would be fine as long as you didn’t surprise him, but now I can’t get him into the bathtub anymore let alone give him a bath when he used to be fine with that. This is basic care I can’t give him anymore because of the biting. He has bitten several people who have been understanding but I think about how many times if someone had not been so understanding we could’ve been in a very precarious position legally. Last night when he bit me very hard and wouldn’t let go something clicked in me and I just knew, no matter what, it had to be done.  I have been sobbing ever since but resolved in my decision. Your blog gave me some peace. I felt like I was giving up on him but he is not well. It’s so much clearer when it’s physical. And it’s complicated by the fact he is so happy-go-lucky the rest of the time, obedient, submissive, and affectionate if you just don’t trigger him. Those triggers are unfortunately increasing and making him more unpredictable. So the call has been made. I will love him my very best until next week, and then we will have to say goodbye. Thank you for your own story and honesty about this too often reality with the dogs we love.

April 8, 2021

Thank you for sharing this. It is the position we find ourselves in now with our 6 year old golden retriever. Her behaviour on walks has been escalating despite numerous attempts to implement better lead control and training. She has now started lunging at puppies and snarling and two days ago she strained on her lead snapping and barking so loudly that the old lady passing my husband walking her almost fell into the path of an oncoming car. She has nipped our two year old once, but in her defence it was his (and my) fault as he pulled at her fur trying to climb on the couch and I couldn't get between them fast enough. In the house she is otherwise a sweetheart. I dread the thought she will successfully bite on a walk and my husband is now at the stage he doesn't want to take her out. Our ten year old retriever has been trained in the same way and he does not have these issues. I feel sick considering euthanasia but I'm worried she will hurt someone and the knowledge that she almost caused a woman to be knocked down weighs heavily.

April 7, 2021

You have no idea how incredibly reassuring reading this was. I’m currently 30 mins away from putting my beautiful 9 year old Jack Russel to sleep because of his aggression. He bit a child quite badly 2 years ago for no obvious reason & has always been very aggressive towards anyone else but me, including other dogs, he’s attacked dogs multiple times & bitten people on a few occasions. I just know I have no other choice as I now have my own baby in the house. I feel as if I might back out because it’s breaking all our hearts but I have no other choice, no Rehoming centre will take him because of his bite history (understandably). Such a hard decision but I’m so glad I’m not alone. Thank you.

April 5, 2021

To all my grieving pet owners... Here is my story with my sweet 4yr old rescue named Luna. I have only had Luna for about 4 months so my heart goes out to all of you that have had your dogs for much longer. Still, I fell fast and hard in love with her and when adopted I had no history but was aware of her anxiety and fear issues. She had been in shelters before so I was suspicious that she might have had previous bite issues...she was too smart ,energetic and adorable that people would not have given her up if she did not have some issues. I considered myself a knowledgeable pet owner and thought I could handle whatever she needed. I gave her structure, leadership, tons of love , took her everywhere I could to help her fears. We went to obedience classes and she did well. She started to exhibit resources guarding issues , snapping but not making contact. She had hand sensitive issues that made me suspicious that she was mistreated by a previous owner. I was careful but not careful enough. The first bite was when i reached quickly to unleash her...she bit me more than twice and I had multiple puncture wounds on 2 fingers. That was very scary .I didn't think she would bite me, she was never more than few feet from me at all times. I knew she loved me. My husband and I agreed that if she bit again she was going back to the shelter. It wasn't 2 weeks later while I was petting her she attacked my hand again this time it was a strong deep bite on the palm near my thumb and I needed to go to the ER. I was devastated and still am she will be euthanized this week. It was my choice...she is in quarantine at the shelter but I could not let them place her in another home. I had to take responsibility for her aggressive behavior and since I didn't know her past I thought it best she couldn't hurt anyone else. I have lost sleep every night since it happened and was doubting my decision every other minute. I have read 6 books and watched hundreds of hours of videos on line to educated myself on what she needed but I couldn't fix her. Genetics , past abuse play a large role in this scenario and we all share that pain. It is not our fault even though I have been blaming myself since it happened. I sought counsel of vet professionals and people who are not emotionally attached. She was suffering a different kind of pain, she never even realized she bit me. our spirits will meet again someday and I have the comfort of knowing that I gave her the best few months of her life. I loved having her and am now traumatized about getting another dog. One day at a time for all of us...God speed

April 1, 2021

Thank you does not seem to be enough to convey my appreciation for sharing your story.  I sit here 3 years after losing my dog due to aggression.  He was only 5 and I had no clue anyone else might possibly understand.  As I read your story I paused many times to just weep.  It was if I had written the story myself. I came across your story because I am on the web searching for anything that might help me tomorrow.  You see, I am  going to pick out a dog.  I have been obsessing about this for weeks.  When I read your thoughts about no longer trusting yourself it resonated so deeply.  It helped me understand that I am not crazy, and my feelings are very much valid. I never thought I could love another dog after euthanizing him.  But I am finally ready.  This article has been an answer to my prayers.  Again, thank you for speaking my heart and giving me hope.

March 20, 2021

In a very similar boat with my toy poodle. My family rescued him at just 3 years old, he is now 14. He gravitated towards me and has been my shadow ever since. He has had a long history of biting my 3 sisters, dad, boyfriend, and even my 2yr old niece. it breaks my heart to think of making this guide of decision. But i truly believe he is suffering. Now married, my husband cant even come into the room without me holding my dog back to prevent an attack. And with us both working from home, i have to be on constant guard when my husband leaves and enters our office space. I He is so good 80% of the time and I will miss the constant companion. But i dont know how much longer I can control his behavior.

Lyn Carney
March 20, 2021

Hi...thanks so much for this.l recently decided too have our beloved Staffordshire Bull Terrier Buster put too sleep out of necessity l didnt have a choice

March 16, 2021

Susan, I know how difficult this decision is. We gave our pup alot of chances tried to ignore the occasional biting episodes hoping it was a phase and he would grow out of it but between my husband and I we were intentionally bit 8 times. I know he was sweet most of the time and we tried to work with him, meds, at the end I even tried purchasing a muzzle incase I needed to treat him for an injury I didn't want to be bit by him in doing so. We should not live in fear of our dogs and I was getting to that point. My husband was bit in the face twice by him and that was early on. We gave him so many chances but he was troubled something not right in his head. He had a vet visit with bloodwork and full clean bill of health we never figured it out. But the last time he went on full on attack mode biting my husband all from just saying goodnight and petting him. At that time we had to make the decision for us and for him. Have your son read these articles understand your not the only one who had to make these touch choices. I been back to this article so many times but I know it was the right thing to do as you are making the right decision as well. Stay strong for your family and for your pup.

Denise Pollari
March 15, 2021

Just said good bye to my Dexter, almost 11 years old but fit as a fiddle and healthy and happy, 98% of the time. Aggressive to other dogs with no warning, aggressive towards children, possessive of toys, 6 human bites over the past year, the most recent on my hand, each one getting progressively worse.  I have had 2 previous appointments to have him put down and couldn't go through with it. Today I had him out side and he found a piece of licorice, he burried it the snow and sat for 2 hours in the cold guarding it. He wouldn't come in the house or go for a walk, if you got within 3 feet of him he would snarl, baring all his teeth. I thought, if I hadn't seen him bury it, or if I was a person walking by and thought, "what a cute dog, I'll just give him a little pet"... I realized how I am also walking on eggshells with him, not knowing if he has something he's protecting. He is also terrified, and thus very aggresive towards, small children, and once COVID restrictions lessen I have young nephews coming to visit. I usually lock him in the car or in the basement, but am always worrying about the car temperature, what if he escapes, or if someone opens the basement door. It's so helpful to be able to vent here, as so many others know how broken hearted I am. 11 years of loving, and he's rewarded with what felt like betrayal. I know it would have been so much worse having to do this AND feeling guilt if someone had been seriously injured. But, boy, does it feel bad! I couldn't have done it with out this website, Thanks to all others who posted and to those who come after, I feel your pain.You are not as alone as you think.

O Antonik
March 14, 2021

I just recently had to put my adopted dog to sleep for the same reason.  And all the stories being shared really helped me to see the right decision was made.  
We adopted a beautiful 2 yr bully from a shelter. Between my husband and I, we had plenty of experience with dogs, large and small and bully breeds.  It was just the two of us so we were pretty confident in providing a good home without any issues.  The shelter had just received the dog and saw he was a mellow but shy dog.  This was normal as he was unsure of the situation. He did not show aggressive behavior.  We brought him home and did proper home introduction, led him into the house, ensuring we were always first.  He was very calm and slowly warmed up to me.  He never took well to my husband.  But we figured that’s ok and would work on it.  While we worked on that, he was an amazing dog, house broken, great on leash, calm around other dogs and strangers.  Everyone was amazed at how he had such a good temperament.  We were so proud of our rescue dog.  We watched him joyfully play in the snow.  He was playful with toys but always gentle, never had an issue when we took his toys or food.  Even when my husband and I hugged, he did not react.  We thought all was on the way to a happy future together.  Well, one day I was laying in bed not feeling well and as my husband came over to take my temperature, (and he has come every morning to check on us before he leaves for work) our beloved pet without a warning attacked him.  He went right for my husband, swiftly and with intent.  He did not stop until my husband was out of the room.  Luckily my husband did not have deep punctures as he moved away quickly but the dog managed to give him deep a laceration and bruising.  He went to the urgent care for antibiotics and a tetanus shot.  The moment this happened I knew I would never see the dog again.  And my heart just ached.  The shelter took him and held him for a few weeks as we begged to find an alternate solution for him.  We contacted numerous rescues and behaviorists.  No one would accept a dog who had bitten someone.  During his stay at the shelter he began growling and lunging at all the handlers.  Understandably stressed, however he was acting at people he was familiar. People who cared and even bathed him.  After many weeks of searching and high stress, we (very reputable trainer, the shelter and the two of us) decided euthanasia was the best choice.  In reality it wasn’t even a choice.  I can very much relate to everyone’s own story and the immense sadness and pain endured.  I’m also feeling exactly the same when it comes to getting another dog; I’m not confident I will pick out the right one and I’m not sure how my husband feels about it either.  I don’t even know if I’m a qualified pet parent anymore.  But your shared stories here helps me realize, euthanasia was the right thing, as much as I wanted the dog to live.  Thank you all for sharing and I hope we can all heal from these awful experiences.

Denise Miller
March 12, 2021

Thank for sharing your story. I just euthanized my dog the other day and am feeling extremely guilty.Despite being told I did the right thing. I an animal lover since I was a child. I miss my little guy I don't miss his aggression and worrying when he would attack. When he attacked my older dog on Monday and drew blood and bit me in the process of breaking them up. It was the only option. I did everything I could do. Praying God gives me peace over this. Hopefully one day I will fall in love with a puppy after my older dog departs from me.

Grace S
March 11, 2021

In 2010, we euthanized Gabriel, our 18-month-old Australian Shepherd. After almost killing our smaller dog (literally - deep gashes on his neck and throat), biting me seriously (multiple stitches), ripping a gate from its moorings to get to another dog, biting my husband - eventually he was diagnosed (by a neurologist at a vet school) with a metabolic storage disorder, which profoundly affected his behavior. The behaviorist we worked with said "people forget, leashes break, gates fall down - don't ever rely on keeping dogs separated."  So true.  Booda, the dog Gabriel almost killed, died last month at 16.5 years, and we're very thankful for his long and happy life.  It takes some of the sting out of losing Gabriel.

John C
March 10, 2021

Today is so difficult. Yesterday I put down my son's pomsky. I got a call from my ex-wife and this was the second time the dog, Wiley bit my son, age 22y/old.   The first time the dog sent my son to the hospital for 15 stitches in the face last November.  Yesterday my son received a 4-inch scar on the face and both hands.  He spent the day in the emergency room.  The dog was previously working with a trainer and in November put on Prozac.  He was very well treated, exercised, and loved.  I have a picture within my cell phone from yesterday with blood running down my son's face, around his eyes, and around his mouth.  My oldest son, age 24 y/old brought the dog to my house.  I called a behavior dog expert and he said it is now very difficult, Wiley is 4 years old and has a history of bitting his mother, the oldest and youngest son.  He said it would take a lot of money and time to work with Wiley.  He was kind and said it just might be best to put down Wiley and buy a new puppy.  I also talked with the humane society and a vet. assistant.  Wiley was a pretty dog, he looked like a 70lb Husky. He did love me and was nice to me and to everyone, except without warning would bite my sons and ex-wife And his growl looked like a primal wolf.  I called my cousin who owned a horse farm to see if he would take the dog.   I also tried to figure out how I could keep the dog, full-time, so this would have been a challenge that I was willing to take.  But how do I bring Wiley around my most-significant ladyfriend, friends, or other family members?  The difficulty is where does one draws the line. My son went to the emergency room twice 15 stitches the first time and I have no idea yet how many stitches yesterday.  Both times Wiley attacked my son in the face. Today my son is very sore and can not speak. Yesterday I was in constant contact with my ex-wife. She was terrified seeing our son bleed over the floor, again.  She wanted the dog put down after they have spent the last year working with their vet., trainers, meds., and looking to rehome. I looked for a miracle and did not find one.  I was really exploring with the behavioralist if I could take the dog, after the second major attack.  He was kind but realistic.  I for sure was balancing being practical and emotional.  There was a lot about this dog that I loved. The questions that I was thinking can I manage the dog on behalf of my sons? I am 62 years/old now and live in a condo.   I have a ladyfriend who would never want to be near Wiley.   Can I rehab Wiley by him living with me?   Can I afford the behavioralist?   Can I balance my work and the large exercise need Wiley had as being half Husky?   Could my son take Wiley back after he spends a year or so with me? God sakes so many questions.  For the most part, I was being unrealistic. I talked today to my brother, ex-wife, mother, and a pal today.  All of them stated that I had no choice.  This is so painful.  I feel so guilty and would have felt more guilty if I did not do something this time, and someone else got hurt.

Susan D
March 8, 2021

I am sitting here crying in sadness as my sweet dog is going to be euthanized today. He was a rescue- the shelter called me and asked me to take him because of my history fostering dogs. We fell in love with Finn and for the last  three years, we’ve made excuses for his aggression, and we have tried trainers, aggression specialists, a muzzle, and finally meds. He has bitten five people- I was the last one two days ago. I reached over to give him a treat and he lunged at my- biting both arms and my breast before my husband knocked him off of me. I ran and he chased me up the stairs, before my husband could grab him. I am heartbroken- like all of you- but I know it is the right thing to do. I feel so guilty, because I knew he was troubled, but he was so sweet. My 20 year -old son is against it, and very upset. He has been bitten, too- but he doesn’t want to “kill our pet.” I wish I could help him see that it is the right thing to do. I know our pain will lessen over time, but it hurts so much. I am also worried about our 15 month old dog who adores him. Reading these posts helps, and I appreciate what everyone has shared.

March 3, 2021

this makes my heart cry,but I have a dog too and he has niped at people 2 times 1 drew blood,I read this 20 times!thank you for this

February 22, 2021

I often to have been coming back to this website to re-read stories it helps me kind of cope with what we had to do when we had to put our boy down almost a year now he was only or barely 3 years old. I read the same comments 98% of the time they’re wonderful which is what he was but then out of the blue during a simple petting session he turn and bite us and then the last one was too vicious to even try to even consider rehabilitation or put him on some kind of drug like a Xanax that he’s no longer by himself I don’t know if that would be fair to him or us with his condition.  It took us a while to notify the breeder we felt it was our issue and with his biting history I would feel not good about myself if we returned him to the breeder in that condition. His aggression towards other dogs was increasing he tolerated his sisters but I was worried what he would do if he came across another dog plus he was already not only nipping at me and my husband but another family member. After some time we finally notified The breeder about the difficult decision we had to make. The comment we got back was “ we would’ve taken him  back“ which I understand as a breeder they love the breed and would not want anyone to make this difficult decision but at the same time that made me question why would you take a dog back with a biting history to probably turn it over to another family and it could do something worse to a child or someone else. He grew up with us he knew us and he was biting us let alone putting him in a situation where he knows not these new people I’m sure he would’ve bitten again and possibly worse putting him into a situation of people he didn’t know and now he feels defensive.  I could not live with myself in that situation wondering if he had attacked somebody else it’s just not being very responsible and as difficult as the decision we had to make and as much as we loved him and miss him every single day I still feel we made the right decision turning him over back to the breeder would not help the situation it probably would’ve stressed him out worse at least I know we were with him and he was loved up until the end no matter what he did. He will always be with us in our heart and know that he’s free of what he was suffering from.

Jodi Montoya
February 21, 2021

First off I'm sorry for your loss and can relate with your pain! My daughter bought a French bulldog back in 2020. NOT doing her research or knowing the breeder she jumped right in. She worked a full time job leaving Champ home for long hours un socialized when early on the aggression was apparent.  He had bit her boyfriends daughter. In July of this last year my daughter and granddaughter moved in with me And Champ too...I got him potty trained around 9 months or so,  he was my buddy. I was angry starting over because I already had a dog to take care of and wasn't ready to to have my time occupied  by another animal ,but I felt he needed a chance so I did what I could for all of us as he was a part of the family now. So long story short....He was aggressive  and extremely protective over me. He didn't care for my daughter anymore because she never made her self available for him! I was there so he became mine kind of. Hes bitten my husband, my oldest daughter my granddaughter  twice hard cutting skin & drawing blood.They recently glued her nose back together and so on. He always had to be kenneld, or muzzled and to me that's not living! There was no reason for him to bite it was just him... All he knew how to do! We euthanized him on 2-3-21  at 14 months of age. GOD i feel dead inside... We did try everything we possible could,  but with covid we couldn't house him someplace else.  The guilt is herendous. The vet at one point said to get a handle on things or we were going to have problems.... Yeah problems we did have. I feel guilty that we let him go and I wish my heart didn't hurt so bad !!

February 15, 2021

I wrote a comment back in September following a real struggle to find some sense of what had happened with us and what was our little of bundle of joy. After years of warning signs, and a really vicious attack on my partner following being unable to rehome him, and extensive researching viably and reliably rehabilitating him we came to the decision to do the unimaginable. I often find myself back again at this website to seek some solace. One thing I often take when I visit the site is the sense of "98% of the time he was an adorable, lovable, loyal  and affectionate dog". No loving dog owner ever wants to make that heart wrenching decision, but if you know that there's a substantial risk, to family, friends, or children, without the possibility or the means of meaningful rehabilitation then your responsible options become limited leaving you with one of the hardest decisions of being a responsible dog owner. 7 months on, it's rare I go a day without missing my wee Ralph. I must say it has made me feel like I never want to get a dog again in a fear of how this experience has made me feel. I will however advise that the feeling does soften as time goes on. I do also think of the many people involved in the love and care of Ralph, including my elderly parents and count the blessings that nothing happened to them. I wish things could have been different,and as painful as it has been, i made the right decision. As much as 8 loved him he was dangerous. The grief does get easier. There is a really good analogy to help with this and I would recommend googling "Coping with Grief: The Ball & The Box". In addition to this website helped me to realise my pain and its a true depiction of how it does get a little bit easier in time. Thank you again to the owner and commentators of this website, 7 months on, you're still helping me. Thank you

January 28, 2021

This article and these comments are exactly what I needed today.  We had to euthanize our Findlay boy on Tuesday.  He was a 3.5 year old Aussie Doodle, unique in form and looks.  I am having trouble finding the words to describe just how awesome he was and how tight we were bonded from the day we brought him home.  He was extremely smart, obedient and boy could he run and catch a frisbee. (Even in the dark)  A little over a year ago, he was attacked by an off leash dog while we were out on a run.  It was quick and traumatic for both of us.  The bites didn’t break his skin, but he screeched like a hawk.  It was awful.  He became somewhat leash reactive at this time and unlike before, he wasn’t interested in meeting new dogs.  He used to try and pull me down to meet people and dogs.  Then, a few months later, a second off leash dog struck.  This was a large mixed breed that went for his neck immediately.  I was able to wrestle them and blunt the impact but he still got him.  He was ruined at this point.  Absolute fear all the time.  He was very leash reactive and untrusting toward anyone he had not previously known.  At this point, it occurred to me that the obedience trainer we took him to was VERY adamant that he never get bit by a dog.   It is my belief that the training itself may have been the root here, but either way, we moved forward.  I worked with Fin everyday ensuring work and exercise and exposure to people and dogs and environment remained in his life.  He improved, hit or miss, but was still nervous and extremely leash reactive, sometimes he would clip my hand trying to bite the leash.  One day in our new home, he was on a lead attached to the porch while I was working on the house and two children cut through the yard within the range of his lead.  He took off after them and knocked one down before I could get his leash in hand.  The boy was uninjured, but I was.  We started with a behaviorist at this point and I was amazed at Fin’s progress, but the damage had been done.  After months of work and improvement, my brother (one of his favorite people) came to visit and he bit his hand.  It was a hard bite, and it was unprovoked.  We had no other choice.  I have a 2 year old daughter and one on the way.  We could not risk their well-being.  My heart is broken.  My house is empty.  My yard is quiet.  But Fin now knows peace. If you’re going through this with me, you are not alone.  It is hard.  It will hurt.  I know I will heal.  I know it was the right thing for everybody, but i will have a hole in my heart forever.

Roseanna Aparicio
January 27, 2021

I have an agressive dog and I know I need to put her down. The agression is escalating and I have a 14 month old Granddaughter living with me. We have no yard to keep Ripley away from her. I know what I have to do. I can't wait for another day.

January 19, 2021

I am writing this in order to relieve some of my guilt and diminish my sadness from yesterday (1/18/2021) when I put Rudy down.  Rudy was a 4.5 year old cocker spaniel. Rudy was my best pal.  I took him everywhere and I cared for him like a child.  He followed me everywhere.  Came to work with me everyday.  Kept me company in the car.  Kept me company outside when working around the house.  The rest of my family would be inside.  So it was Rudy who was always there with me for 4.5 years.  He was my dog.  He loved me so much.  He would literally howl when I left him behind.  But he had issues.  He had bitten 8-10 people over his life.  And was a resource guarder with just about anything.  I was the only one in the family that could settle him down and take his guarded item.  I hoped he would mellow with age and get better.  Then last Friday night, Rudy bit my wife again when she was rubbing his belly.  I was standing there and she was being very gentle.  I feel guilty because I encouraged her to rub him - I was constantly trying to get her to like him and for Rudy to accept her and everyone else.  After that, it was me or the dog had to go.  I have the biggest whole in my heart for missing my best pal, Rudy.

Phyllis DeGioia
January 18, 2021

Hi M, I am incredibly sorry to hear that you've been so injured. The physical stuff will heal - alhtough your injuries will take longer than most others because of the severity. The emotional damage will take much longer to do so, but they do heal. If you don't mind, I suggest you read the follow up piece, written years later: I believe there are bits in there that you will find appropriate to read right now. It's at  Please take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Broken dogs break our hearts, but it doesn't mean we don't love them. Remember that next week.

M rivera
January 15, 2021

Thank you for your words.   Am recently recovering physically and emotionally after a severe attack by my beloved two year old American bully rescue that we had for a year . He had a bad reactive/aggression episode.   He has behavioral issues and reactivity and spent a lot of money on training and learned to  manage him, with intermittent epidsodes with the worst case scenario happening to me a week ago resulting in hospitalization and surgery .  I will recover and was lucky    But our hearts are broken and the final decision was made to put him to rest next week.     Your words and the comments are healing.    But at this time we are broken    In many ways.           Appreciative. Thank you for your words.   Am recently recovering physically and emotionally after a severe attack by my beloved two year old American bully rescue that we had for a year . He had a bad reactive/aggression episode.   He has behavioral issues and reactivity and spent a lot of money on training and learned to  manage him, with intermittent epidsodes with the worst case scenario happening to me a week ago resulting in hospitalization and surgery .  I will recover and was lucky    But our hearts are broken and the final decision was made to put him to rest next week.     Your words and the comments are healing.    But at this time we are broken    In many ways.           Appreciative.

January 4, 2021

I continue to read the stories and come back to the site months after I had to make the difficult decision to put our beloved boy down at three years old. He was a full bred Shiba Inu and we had him since three months like we have two other Shiba Inu girls. It’s been eight months since he is gone.  I remember the times that he made us laugh and how goofy he could be but then I think back on some of the instances where he bit us unprovoked just from being petted loved or hugged. I’m reading some of the other stories and besides thinking that some thing was just miss wired with him if he also suffered anxiety. Some of his body language made me think that later on such as I notice he always had heavy panting even when he was laying down and should be calm. Sometimes he would stand on me when I was in bed and he would just be yawning anxiously but then the times that he did bite us he had calmly come over and sat at our feet to be petted and suddenly he turned and bit us.  Anyone who finds this site it’s helpful to read the stories that were not alone having to deal with our precious babies suffering from anxiety or some other condition and having to make the difficult decision to have them put down. Unfortunately they’re not like a person and if you put him on medication they can’t tell you with the medication is making him feel better all we know is we didn’t want to put our dog on something that he would be doped upAnd no longer be himself that’s not fair to him or us. I think of my boy every day and miss him with all my heart but at the same time I can’t forget the final vicious attack where we knew that he was not getting better and it would just be getting progressively worse.  I don’t wish this decision on anyone in my heart goes out to everybody who has to deal with or has written their story in this post. Know  in your heart it’s the right thing for them and for you and your family they are suffering on the inside and sometimes just need to be freed from that suffering for a condition they can’t control.  I’ve questioned myself many times if we did something wrong we raised him like we did our girls socializing teaching commands but sometimes the condition is just in the dogs DNA and no matter how much training or medicine doesn’t change the fact this is how they are and may end with an unfortunate decision like euthanasia.  We never thought we would put a dog down at 3 years we had hoped to have his lifetime with us.  I  hope everyone finds comfort on this post that we Had to make these difficult decisions sometimes out of love and what is best for the dog and the family involved.

December 28, 2020

Thank you so much for this post. Some people are very clueless and lacking. The decision to euthanize a beloved pet is not a light one. In just a couple days my rescued pit will be euthanized for anxiety. She has seen trainers, a behaviorist and several veterinarians. I have tried muzzling, medication, crating, positive reinforcement... for years. nothing seems to have helped ease her anxiety. She has bit me twice, in an attempt to get at other things she finds scary. I know she doesn’t mean it, but she cannot help it. My heart is broken. I know I’ve tried every thing I can, and somehow in this moment it still doesn’t feel like enough. I know that living a life of confinement and fear isn’t a good life for her and I know this will be a relief for her as much as it is for me. Yet it’s hard to shake the feeling that I’ve somehow given up on her. I know this is irrational, and I know one day I’ll heal from the heart ache but right now it feels terrible. Thank you for sharing your story and for your compassion. It does help to know, we aren’t alone.

December 22, 2020

Thank you so much for sharing this. My fiancé just made the difficult decision a couple weeks ago to rehome our 5 year old blue heeler/beagle mix dog that resulted in euthanization. Rehoming is something we have been considering for a few a years due to his behavior. It was the most heartbreaking decision we have had to make in our relationships. Our dog was with us from the beginning. He was the dog we picked out our first year together and went with us to three different cities and 5 different homes and a dog we brought our now 18 month old daughter home two. He was part of a trio with our other two dogs. He started showing some aggression a few years ago. Nipping, growling, trying to attack when playing and within this last year he became very aggressive. Biting when pulling him back away from the door; trying to bite guests/visitors, growling at our toddler, repeatedly coming back to bite again and finally when he was caught counter surfing; he attacked my fiancé and we knew that an attack was eventually coming down the pike for our toddler or me. And so we decided to rehome him to my mom and step dad since they had more time to try and help him. Which resulted in him staying the same and biting their dog for no reason. Which resulted in him having to be put to sleep. I have cried everyday for two weeks, I feel so much guilt, and I felt like no one could relate to me. I love dogs; and have since I was little. My best friend was a rottweiler for 13 years! And having to put a dog down after 5 that I planned on being committed to for 10+ years is heart wrenching. I’m always thinking about the good in him and not about what I knew he was capable of. But, I know that I would feel more guilt if we kept him and he hurt someone in our family; especially our toddler. He was very unpredictable and you never knew what he was going to snap or bite you about. The most difficult decision you will ever make as a pet owner is to put a pet down. And I hate that we had to do it when we are just 5 years into all starting our lives together. And I can only hope that I can come to peace with it as you have done as time passes. Bless you.

December 11, 2020

We rescued an Aussie from a lady through my son. He was fine for a while but started guarding my husband and my bedroom badly. Took him to the vet to have him checked and to a behaviorist. Long story short he bit me so bad it required 28 stitches in my arm a couple of years ago. I wanted him  euthanized at that time but my husband disagreed. Well, yesterday he bit me in the face and required 8 stitches below my eyebrow. One area could not even be stitched because he tore a chunck of skin off. I just reached down to pet him and that was all. I am sitting here with a patch over my eye, a black eye, and in a lot of pain. I will be scarred for the rest of my life. I do love. Roger but he is going to be euthanized. He is truly aggressive and dangerous to me. I am scared to death in my own home but on the other hand still love him. I am crying right now due to the bite due to him having to be euthanized and I am scared. I hate feeling like this. The bite on the arm was bad with the 28 stitches but this injury is far worse. He could have bitten me in the eye and blinded me. So glad I found your post. It has truly helped me. Roger is still in my house in a crate right now and will stay in the crate until tomorrow. He will come out of course to potty but I will be in my office with the door shut when he comes out. To be that scared of your own dog!! 

December 1, 2020

I just wanted to thank you for this story. My dog of 4+ years who I love more than life itself will be put to sleep tomorrow. She is a rescue who came out of a bad situation and has been on medication, seen a behaviorist, multiple dog trainers, etc. She is fear aggressive and has had several instances of aggression toward my oldest son who is often away at college and one instance of lunging at my daughter's friend a few years ago. She had never showed aggression toward my youngest 2 children until Sunday when she bit my daughter in the arm without warning. She has gotten progressively worse over the past 4 years to the point where we can no longer trim her nails or clean her ears without heavily drugging her for our own safety. I am a mess over putting her down. I've never loved a dog so much in my life. I don't know how i'll go on. Thank you for showing me that I may heal, and that I'm not alone in my pain. Take care.

November 23, 2020

Thank you so much for this post. It really helped my husband and I come to the difficult decision to euthanize our baby boy. We had our boy for 7 years and had constantly from the very beginning (he was about a year when I adopted him) dealing with his aggression issues. He bit us numerous times. Luckily he was only 18lbs so we never had to visit the ER, even though he broke the skin numerous times. His incidents were sometimes after raised voices or trying to correct his behavior, so we tried distraction when he did wrong and always speaking calmly to each other. Other times he was resource guarding so we did food time at specific times each day and allowed him to play with a toy until he was done with it and then we would give him a treat in order to get it back from him. Then we felt like we needed to separate him from us when we were hanging out in the evening so we had to get a baby gate to keep him out of certain spaces. Our baby had a lot of issues, which I think might have also been neurological, but we loved him so much. We worked with a veterinary behaviorist for over a year and she put him on Xanax and trazadone ( for when he was afraid of the high wind and storms etc).  He was beautiful and had such a spunky little personality. He cracked us up all the time. He loved hiking so we took him on a ton of hikes his last week and fed him yummy food. I will always remember sitting with him by the lake watching the sand hill cranes while his trazadone kicked in right before we took him to the vet. We will be grieving for him a long time, and I feel very guilty for betraying his trust: However, I feel that this was the right decision. We were always on eggshells around him and he was pretty anxious and I do doubt that would have been able to care for him safely as he got older. He got anxious when we groomed him and bit me repeatedly when I tried to get burrs out of his fur. Anyway, my feelings about him are very complicated, but I loved him so much. We put him to sleep this afternoon and it has been the worst day of my life. I’m feeling very sad and guilty, but this post has helped us a lot. I will miss him always, as we was our first baby. I know he loved us so much too. He wasn’t a total monster, and had a very sweet side that was him the majority of the time. Thank you for showing us the gray area in this category.

Wendy Stieg
November 23, 2020

Thank you for sharingyour story.  We recently adopted a dog from the shelter, and were not given the entire picture of his history.  He bit my niece's puppy, unprovoked, in the face, out of no where.  Then he bit our rescue cat, who had begun to trust him.  It was the same situation:  I turned my back, and out of no where, he bit the cat in the face.  The puppy sustained a severe puncture wound, which became infected.  My niece's vet was able to get it under control, and the puppy is now doing ok, except for fear of other dogs.  The cat is healing too, but sustainted puncture wounds, almost lost his eye, and has broken bones in his sinuses.  He is healing, and the vet expects a full recovery. I learned from the previous owners (long story but we ended up meeting them...) that he had bitten their toddler in the face, again, unprovoked.  And other animals. I felt absolutely horrible, and like I was landed with a huge problem I neither created, nor wished to have to fix.  I don't think you could fix this dog.  He was sweet to us, but we started to notice he was making grimmaces toward our 7 year old chocolate lab.  Our lab has never instigated anything, and is very docile. After talking to the shelter, the former owners, and a lot of soul searching, we realized that the most humane thing was to have him put down.  He wouldn't attack anymore defenseless animals or children, and would never be put in a position where he would be abused.  It was a horrible thing to have to decide, but in the end we knew it was the right move.  We did contact th previous owners to let them know, as we felt they had a right to know what happened with their dog. To this day, I will never know if it was behavioral, or if he was just wired wrong.  IN the end, I don't think it matters, it was a problem we couldn't fix, and we have had many dogs, and are loving and experienced dog and cat owners.  I still feel terrible about having to decide a poor animal's fate, but I also know that now children, puppies, cats or other small creatures will have to suffer.

November 17, 2020

Thank you for sharing your story. My beloved Neville will be put to sleep on Thursday following an attack on my 8 month old son a week and a half ago. I have been looking online trying to find stories I can relate to. Stories of pet parents who love their fur babies and believed the best in them, only to feel the betrayal of trust you speak of through an unprovoked attack. This article spoke to me on so many levels and brings me peace in knowing that I am not only making the right decision for my dog but for the safety of those around him - even if "most of the time, he is good." I am not going to go through his history as it is too painful, but I will say that his last bite on my infant son's face which sent him into emergency surgery was the last straw. I love that dog beyond words but something has to give. On Thursday, he will go to sleep with his dad and I right by his side and will be freed of all his anxiety and we as his family can start to grieve and heal. To anyone reading this looking for the same reassurance; know that you aren't alone and what you are doing or done is the kind choice. Our dogs can no longer hurt and they will never BE hurt in another home by people that wouldnt love them the same we would. Thank you again for sharing your story. 

Ericka Marie Howell
November 7, 2020

Hello, My name is Ericka Howell. I’ve been googling trying to find something to help me deal with having to put my dog down and came across this article and it’s hitting right on for me. In March 2020 our family lost our Cane Corso of 11 1/2 years. I was devestated we all were. In May we got a beautiful bully puppy from a reputable breeder. This dog made our family so happy. He was so beautiful loving playful just special. He did however seemed to not like my 9 year old. From about 8 weeks, he always nipped at her. No one else just her. So we stopped letting her play on the floor with him. No tug a war she started to feed him. If he did nip her shed pop him tell him no he started to listen and things looked like it was getting better. He started t have this thing with running away. If you ran from him he would chase you n end up biting you in the butt. It was corrected by popping him telling him no bite. He seemed to stop. 2 weeks ago outa no where he jumped up n nipped my 15 year old in the stomach after her n the younger one were playing. He nipped the younger one in the finger. He too would growl at her if she tried to take something from him. Al of this I’m sure sounds bad but it just didn’t add up to her sweet he was. He just wanted to be where we were sit on ur lap belly rubs regular puppy stuff. His testicles never dropped so we had apt to get him fixed but appointments that were within our budget were so far out so we scheduled in January. These last few weeks he started humping aggressively. Last week he tried to hump my 9 year old and when she pushed him off he snapped and latched onto her thigh. My 15 year old repeatedly punched him n it seemed like he bit harder and would not let her go. My husband had come n had to rip him off her and he grabbed her arm biting her there. In a fit of rage from my husband seeing his daughter essentially mauled, he’s trying to beat the dog but I get knocked to the ground. The dog turns on me biting me first in the arm then in my thigh. I was it so bad I’m that it left a deep hole in my leg. We had to get stitches it was bad. Husband took the dog out the house to a rescue and they put him down. He was only 7 months. I feel so bad that maybe it’s my fault that I spoiled the dog so much and didn’t really allow him to be disciplined that contributed to the aggressive behavior. I’m just really sad as the dog was so sweet I just don’t understand why he snapped like that. We had just come home from the groomers they loved him in there he loved getting baths he loved being around other dogs. We would go into petsmart and he was in heaven id let him pick his toys he was sweet made me so happy. I just do t get it. I feel so bad that he got put down but the rescue place said once he attacks like that there’s nothing they can do but put him down. Did we do the right thing? Any idea as to why this happened? Loosing 2 dogs in a 7 month period is killing me.

Wendy Smith Wilson, DVM
October 31, 2020

Dear Christy, I'm so sorry that you and your daughter had to go through this emotional trauma.  I may be reading this incorrectly, but it sounds like she adopted an adult dog, perhaps from a rescue.  Quick escalation from unsocialized/disinterested to outright aggression is sadly not uncommon in dogs that have already been relinquished to a shelter or rescue; this is often referred to as a "honeymoon period" where the dog is on its best behavior while getting used to a new home.  Often with rehomed dogs, there are no problems during the first 1-2 (sometimes even 3) months.  As they become more comfortable in their new surroundings, behaviors emerge that often give a clue about why the dog was in rescue in the first place. Dr. Teri Oursler wrote a piece about Adopting Out Aggressive Dogs , and it has touched a lot of people who have experienced unhappy consequences after trying to do a good thing by saving a life.  It makes me terribly sad to heard all these stories. I don't know the specifics of your dog's history, but your description of his escalating aggression makes me think that in his past, he probably growled at someone to tell them he didn't like what they were doing.  Maybe someone tried to take his food away, maybe he perceived a person as a threat . . . and growled, just like he would growl at another dog to say, "Hey, what you're doing is scaring me -- please back off."  Dogs understand that language; humans don't always get the message. Where we humans often make the first mistake is by punishing that growl!  If we instead learn to RESPECT the growl for what it is -- "I don't like what you're doing, you're scaring me" -- we can then change OUR response.  If we continue to do scary things do a dog that has already growled, he learns that the growl (which was a low-level warning) didn't work, so he needs to communicate more forcefully the next time.  Unless we change our approach, the aggressive behavior will continue to escalate and spiral out of control . . . and each time it happens, it gets harder to repair the damage. There's an outdated mode of treating aggression in dogs, and it remains stubbornly persistent.  The "dominance" theory of dog training and management is inherently wrong, and it serves to create dangerous dogs.  There are television shows that continue to show dominance training, saying that these dogs are bad and need to be shown who is boss . . . but in truth, these dogs do not have a behavior problem, they have a mental illness (anxiety and fear!) and they need medical help -- a doggy psychiatrist, if you will.  With dominance training they are "scared into submission," their anxiety worsens, and they end up being labeled as a dangerous dog who may not be able to recover to live something that resembles a normal life. Dr. Laurie Bergman, a veterinary behaviorist who helped me understand my own dog (who already had severe anxiety when I adopted her at 5 weeks of age), has written a couple of articles that I hope readers here will spread far and wide to help stamp out dominance-style training once and for all.  I would encourage anyone who is interested to read "Dog Training Using Rewards: Why" and "Dog Training Using Rewards: How To"  These two articles alone will go a long way to help all of us understand that there's a better way to interact with dogs, and perhaps keep them out of shelters and rescue situations in the first place. In your daughter's circumstances, this dog was obviously very unstable and dangerous.  Your decision to euthanize was absolutely the correct thing to do to prevent harm to your family.  Perhaps it will ease your mind to know that dogs like this live very unhappy, abnormal lives, and that euthanasia was very likely a release from suffering for him as well.

Christy Wilkinson
October 20, 2020

My 98 pound adult daughter brought home a pitbull/lab mix 2 years ago. The dog was approximately 1 year old at the time. He seemed unsocialised but not aggressive, just disinterested in people. This progressed in a very short time to a willful disregard, even though she had taught him some basic commands. This escalated til one day, he pulled her down and then sat on her chest during a walk. Then, he went for her face and managed to get her arm instead. I saw it happen from our yard, grabbed a log and went after him like a berzerker. He backed off, and she was heartbroken when I suggested euthanasia. I have handled many dogs and knew this dog was not O.K.. Since she really wanted him to live, I agreed to work with him. Here we are a year later, and I put him down yesterday. I put him down because he had managed to eat his own collar a few weeks ago in his cage, and surgery was out of our range. He was never all right to be free range around other people or animals. When I first started working with him, he went for my face 3 times in a row because I would not let him eat my neighbors little dog. I am pretty darn strong, so I was able to catch him in the air and body slam him down. A normal dog wouldn't have gone for another round. The whole time I worked with him, I had to be ready to pull such moves. I had to be stronger and faster than he was because that was the only thing he respected. Eventually, he began to mind me and would sit rather than try to pull away from me to attack another animal or a person. I felt he could live with me and I could keep the world safe from him and him safe from the world, as long as I kept strict handling protocols in place. He could never be rehomed or handled by a less experienced or physically compromised person. And then, one day he ate his collar while I was away working. I did not protect him well enough from himself. He lived in a metal cage with no chewable parts, like that nice plastic floor tray, because I caught him destroying it one day and knew it could cause him harm. He recieved rawhide chews on occasion. He never got to wander about the house. It was unsafe for him to do so. I understood him and he respected my strength, but he was a very dangerous 100 pound dog. I am grieving his passing, but I also know what he was, and that no one would ever have been safe around him.

October 3, 2020

This last week I decided to finally euthanize my beloved Chihuahua, who was was aggressive, form a young puppy. Some attacks were predictable others were out of the blue & totally unprovoked. Now aged 14 the attacks were getting more and more frequent. Though small she could draw a lot of blood and skilled in tearing skin very successfully, latching on to a hand or a limb, refusing to let go. Went to several dog training classes as a young dog but did not help. Going to the vet was a nightmare as she went into relentless 'attack mode'. I loved my dog dearly and put up will the repeated attacks over so many years. Having attempted  different training methods and techniques over the years. Always tip toeing round the dog to prevent attacks. I felt really bad, that it has come to this, having tried everything to keep her but now that I could no longer leave with anybody for fear of her attacking them, the time had come. Thank you for your blog it really is comforting to know in myself that I made the right decision and that I am not alone. I still look for her every day, the pain so intense. I did my best to give my little dog a good life. Thank you

September 23, 2020

Hi Phyllis, I came across you blog about euthanizing your dog and it is very much helpful to me. I am facing the damn decision making. My Yorkie Maxine is almost 11 years old, she was always sassy and could attack people, but mostly if she protected something she did not want to give up or if she was resting and somebody wakes her up. Over the years such behavior was not very often and I was the one who could manage her and calm down. Last year we moved to an apartment from the house she lived from the age of 12 weeks and O guess it trigger something and she became more aggressive and practically not manageable. The vet, her regular doctor and behavioral specialist proscribed her different pills and for some time she seemed to be better, but for the past 2 weeks our nightmare started, she is attacking me and my husband every day and today we made our last appointment to euthanize her. This the worst and I feel like part of my heart is torn. But I hope that I do it right for her and for our family. Thank you for your blog, I appreciate this.

September 22, 2020

Our beautiful Lily will cross the rainbow bridge this afternoon. We feel it is the best option given her changes in behavior the last 6 months and especially the last two weeks. I truly resonated with this article and the comments as I read through tears in my eyes. Although our girls issues do not stem to the length of some of the other behaviors I’ve read, they are still unpredictable and dangerous. Lily came to us through a friend last year who had gotten her via a Facebook or Craigslist ad. She did not work out in my friends home due to not getting along with her dog. We were searching for a companion for our male dog and thought she would be perfect. We were told upon her arrival that her former owner had crates her 10-12 hours a day and would let her out to play, sedate her, and return her to her bed. She was never fed proper food nor taught about mealtime manners. She was fed merely table scraps. She was skinny, had some sores, and her fur was not glossy and shiny as it should be for a huskie/shepherd mix. She did not know many commands and was slightly food aggressive at first. Over the months she over came her food aggression, learned how to sit and wait, give paw, lie down. She is quite smart! As she became more comfortable with my family she grew more Leary of friends and family coming and going to our home. Particularly blonde women, as odd as it sounds. It has gotten to the point where she has to be crated when anyone comes for fear of her biting. She has nipped several of our friends, both my children and broken the skin on both the kids. None of it has ever been provoked. She has attacked our other dog on occasions but my husband was always able to break them up. She is always remorseful after, retreating herself into her bed or a corner. We were willing to get her training and send her to a behavioral analyst. She severely attacked our other dog two weeks ago requiring staples in several places. Over the weekend she also got loose and squeezed herself through my neighbors goat fence and started attacking their goats. I was able to pull her off of them by hosing her down, however the length of that far exceeded what it should have. When she attacked my other dog I was home alone with my toddler and tried to break them apart but she tried to bite me. I finally got her outside and was able to separate them. All of this has me on egg shells. We were already very cautious because of her aggressive behaviors. I have been traumatized by her actions and despite how much we truly love her we feel she is too much of a liability for the neighborhood. We have livestock, horses, many young kids and frequently people run and walk their dogs by our home. We did not feel comfortable in rehoming her, like many of the comments here for fear of what she could do. So we have chosen to focus on the positive life and experiences we have given her. It is difficult none the less but if she were to cause any additional harms I know that I would never forgive myself. We feel that this is the safest option for our beautiful girl and will miss her dearly. We were also not willing to lose everything we’ve worked so hard for because she chose to attack someone. The what if’s are too great. So now we spend our afternoon filled with love, toys, long walks and treats. We will miss her dearly and my heart is broken over this.

September 18, 2020

These stories make me realise that our decision is the right one. We have 5 1/2 year old Basset Hound who is the live of my life and my absolute best friend, however, since he was a pup he has always shown aggressive tendencies. There was never a particular situation or instance that set him off but he would just go. He has attacked around 16 people within our family and friends. These range from growls and snarls to full on biting. My brother is us to visit the hospital due to puncture wounds on his hands. We have tried everything possible...3 behaviourists, multiple vets, medications, routine and diet changes, social situations. We became part of a basset hound walking group which was great for him but as soon as he was in the car or back home that’s when these issues would start. Never has he done anything outside the home but it is now the only solution. I don’t want to do it, I am not sure if I can bring myself to do it but I know deep down that for him and the safety of everyone else, we have no choice. I now have a week with him to treat him and spoil him before the day arrives. We spoke to a charity for hounds who said that this “rage syndrome” is a form of epilepsy which rarely gets better and the fact of the matter is he is now classed as a dangerous dog. I am broken but know it is for the best. Thanks for this thread.

September 15, 2020

Thank you for sharing your story. This alongside the comments has enabled me to see light at the end of the tunnel which has been 6 weeks of what I can only be described as torture. We had our 3 and a half year old English Bulldog euthanized 6 weeks ago. I loved him so much, and whilst this has really helped me I still can't shake this overwhelming feeling of guilt, remorse but also feeling of being a failure as a dog owner. Ralph started off his life living with a colleague of my partners. After an altercation between Ralph and their other dog they were looking to rehome him. He had spent weeks on end locked in a crate whilst they went out to work when their other dog wandered free. Whilst they didn't mention this to us, he's always been nervous of boys of a certain age (between 5 and 7 years old) which is how old her two sons were. We took him from their hands when he was 7 months old, just missing out on the key socialising period. Nonetheless once we had him, we immediately fell in love with him. I did my best to ensure he was well socialised with a wide a range of people and children as possible, I altered my shifts so that he rarely spent any length of time on his own, hired a dog walker to take him out with other dogs which he loved several times each week. and He and i regularly went out on adventures just me and him. He responded fairly well to commands, although being a bulldog, and being very stubborn once he'd had enough he would park his bottom and refuse to move any further. Something that I also loved him for being a quirk of his personalty. A lot of our family were involved in Ralph's care and one occasion when Ralph was about a year old we asked my sister to go and get him and take him up to my mums. She struggled to get his lead on, and eventually managed to get it on and take him up to mum's which when there  started growling at her, I suspect from taking so long to put the harness on. My sister knew Ralph really well and there had never been a problem before. It was shrugged off as an isolated incident and as he never snapped we didn't think it was serious. As time went on, other concerning incidents occurred which resulted in us stopping any of our nieces or nephews coming in to the house. When at my mums he growled and then cornered my nephew and sister in to a corner growling and barking and being threatening to the point where they had to run out of the room and temporarily trap him in until I could come and get him. My sister then stopped coming over because he would growl and snap at her when he saw her. With my other nephews he also had warned and snapped at them but never actually bitten them. Understandably being nervous with him being around kids, as a precaution we couldn't have them in proximity to him just out of safety but also for Ralph, as they clearly stressed him out. There were also other incidents where he growled and snapped at family members when trying to move him out the way..or giving him a command. There had been occasions where he had growled at myself and my partner too where we had startled him unintentionally when he was asleep, but never was really a concern. Ralph had had a few health problems already. Earlier in the year we paid for him to have BOAS surgery because he was finding it difficult when warm to breathe properly. Living in England we don't get too many of them thankfully, but for his benefit as he got older we thought it was a good idea so that the problem didn't get worse. He also had a sensitive tummy, so we had him on a prescription diet. After getting him, and researching the breed we knew he needed a lot of care and that they weren't the healthiest of breeds. We took out a fully comprehensive lifetime pet insurance policy to ensure we had the cover needed for any ongoing health problems that came up. And then the fateful day. Ralph had been out with his dog walker. I was upstairs working and he came up as he normally did and laid down by my side. I then noticed his claw had been ripped. On closer inspection the claw on his back foot was badly torn and the wick was exposed. He was clearly in pain and was limping on it. After video calling the vet they insisted that we bring him down to have him be given a sedative and then have the cumbersome claw removed. He had been growling understandably but we wanted to get him to the vets because he was in pain. I put his harness on the floor and he snapped at me. I then stepped back to give him space which is when he went crazy. He lunged forward and grabbed my foot in his mouth, biting down with full force and then ragging my foot side to side in his mouth for about 8 seconds. Thankfully I had had a shoe on but managed to get free, where he then chased after me. I have had to go to A&E (ER) to have the wound seen to twice. I feel like if I hadn't had my shoe he would've broken my foot. I have been on 4 rounds of antibiotics for 6 weeks and the wound even though partly protected by the shoe has still not healed. It's hard because I know it was a reaction to pain, but because of the known health issues he was going to experience in the future, and due to the extent of the injury we couldn't risk this happening to another part of the body such as wrist or face because it could be fatal. Nor would it be responsible to risk all the other people that were involved in his care including my parent's, the dog walker my partners parents and the vets. We sought advice from many sources including the vet, behaviorists and a specialist bulldog charity here in the UK and they all said part of being a responsible dog owner is making really difficult decisions. We didn't feel comfortable ourselves looking after his ongoing health problems given this incident and therfore didn't feel it was right or safe to pass this on to another owner or shelter. So sadly we came to the conclusion to have him euthanized. We spent 3 weeks with him after the incident looking at all the alternatives but in the end we didnt have any choice. I miss him dearly. I sob daily missing all the amazing times I've had with him. I hope one day I can look back at my memories of him and laugh rather than be reminded as I am at the moment of the unfortunate point we were led to.

August 25, 2020

I’d also like to add our heartfelt thank-you to you for sharing your story. It helped us immensely in making a tough decision. When you wrote “I believe if your dog has inflicted enough physical damage to send someone to the ER, or has mauled or killed another dog, it’s time to act definitively.” I realised we had to decide. Our 6 year old Wheaten’s aggressive tendencies had been worsening over the last 18 months - even tho we instigated extra training with behaviour experts and calming medication. There was no rhyme or reason to when it would suddenly happen either. He was a wonderful dog for 5 years but we “think” the turning point was when he was attacked unexpectedly by a dog who lived around the corner as we walked to the park with our dogs on the leash. It was a collie cross who just ran out of nowhere and savagely grabbed our dog on the neck. We reported it to local Council but 6 weeks later it happened again — the same collie attacked our Wheaten again. After the second attack our Wheaten  started lunging & biting other dogs unexpectedly and biting family members for no reason. I have scars on my arm from his deepest bite which sent me to the ER. We had to make a decision after our Wheaten unexpectedly attacked our 14 year old dog — an attack so deep and severe it just missed the jugular. Both dogs were barking at the postman and our Wheaten just turned on our older dog for no apparent reason and almost killed her. He grew up with her and it totally surprised us. This attack brought home that he was getting more dangerous and it might be a child next. We were becoming afraid of when he would next strike and worried we couldn’t be vigilant enough.  Our vet said he was a “ticking time bomb”. We had been excusing his behaviour and hoping behaviour training with experts would solve the issue. It is so hard to understand how a dog can be so loving most of the time and have sudden unexpected terrifying moments. He’s been loved, well trained and part of our family and we’re grateful for the love he gave us. It has been the most heartbreaking and painful experience and we still feel so much anguish mixed with love and responsibility. We love him forever and miss him dearly

August 25, 2020

I am struggling with this issue. My 7 year old terrier has bitten me many times but the last time was the worst. He bit my thigh and shook his head as if I was a rodent. The bite is still purple and swollen  6 weeks later. He has been diagnosed as psychologised damaged with so many obsessions that a behaviour therapist would never be able to be successful. He can be very loving but even when he is cuddled beside me, he can suddenly snarl and bare his teeth at me. When out, he is unbiddable , refuses to walk, has no recall at all and basically does what he wants. I love him but I am scared of him. He is 100% unpredictable. Three vets plus an experienced dog trainer have said he’s the most difficult dog they’ve ever met. I checked his genetic history and he is highly inbred, hence many other physical problems which I’ve had to pay for. At one time, he was attending the vet twice a week. I’ve let my partner take care of him for a while because this was in the country and he had a lot of freedom, but he was incessantly barking and also, annoying sheep and had to be put on a chain. This was so awful to witness, I brought him back home. I don’t know what to do. I’ve been told he can’t be rehiomed. My children won’t visit because of him and I feel trapped by my need to care for him. I know I’d suffer terrible guilt having him put down, but the truth is, he dominates my life and it’s making me depressed. What will I do????

Panama Canal
August 25, 2020

I have found comfort in these messages. We got our staghound mix (probably a greyhound x bull arab) from a rescue who had received her from a pound so no known history. Her behavior with humans was perfect. She loved humans.  But she always looked funny at small kids/toddlers. She also looked funny and got aroused by small dogs and showed fear against larger dogs. One day she saw a poodle across the street and bolted, pulled the leash out of my hand. I couldn't catch her before she bit down on the rump of the poodle. We immediately engaged a vet behavioralist. Before the meeting with the vet she jumped on a cat during a walk and we were lucky the cat was not hurt. She has had other near misses where people have been able to intervene. We followed the advice of the vet and our dog wore a muzzle while out walking and we continued  with the professional training as much as possible during covid restrictions and additional training at home. She was perfect at home but anxious when out on walks and appearing to become increasingly anxious about more things.  We have 8-9 ft fences and a spring loaded gate. We thought we were safe for to be at home without a muzzle and in the yard.  Last weekend we had massive winds where I live. We are all sitting in the lounge room and the dog barks and goes outside to look through the fence to see who is walking past. She often does this and we will call her and she will come in. She didn't come in and all of a sudden we hear screaming. We run outside and our dog has a little dog in her jaws. We managed to pry the little dog out and get her to surgery but she sadly did not survive. We examined the gate and realized the auto close was getting caught on the latch and not closing properly. We think there was a small gap that allowed our dog to nudge the gate open. This was such a traumatic experience for us and the owner of the poor little dog.  We cried and cried and cried but we knew that given the opportunity our dog would kill again.  We couldn't say that we could prevent another dog or maybe a small child being injured despite our best intentions and love for her. It was in her nature to hunt and we think that nature was never tempered by socialization. We felt that we had tried but her high and uncontrollable prey drive - natural to her - was something we could not protect others from.  We didn't want the next incident to be a child in a costume.  It was the hardest thing for me to do - and I've done some pretty hard stuff in my life. We loved her. To us she was a princess. But we sacrifice our love to protect others. It hurts so much and I want to have another best friend in my life but I am nervous that my next dog will have similar issues.

August 12, 2020

It has taken me a little while to ge to posting this and I am still heartbroken.  Sometimes I feel like I might always be.  Recently we put our precious Griffin down.  Griffin was a German Shepard and Lab mix that we got when he was just 6 weeks old.  He was a sweet puppy but as he started to get a little bit older he started to show signs of anxiety and aggression.  Griifin no longer showed interest in his dog food and I started cooking for him.  Once he lunged at my son but thankfully we were all around and no injuries occurred.  We had to start monitoring our surroundings and had to keep him away from certain people in the household.  His behavior got worse.  We worked with 2 trainers.  He had lunged and tried to bite the 1st one.  At this point we realized we had to be very careful with him.  Throughout our time Griffin bit me 3 times.  The most recent was the worst when he snuck through the door trying to go into his crate and attacked me.  He put 2 puncture wounds in my thumb and bruised my arm.  I had been debating my options for a long time.  I considered all options most of us think about, rehoming, a rescue and euthanasia.  Rehoming was not an option for Griffin because I feared he would hurt someone else especially a small child.  If I gave him to a rescue he would be scared and unhappy and cause harm.  Griifin suffered from severe anxiety.  Just getting him to go outside for exercise and to use the restroom would cause him to shake tremendously and salivate.  His aggressive was unpredictable and his size was big.  By this time in our life our family size was 7 and only 2 people were able to interact with him.  We made the decision to euthanize Griffin.  It was one of the hardest decisions I have made in my life.  I had no other choice because I could not risk him harming my family or anyone else's family for that matter.  I did not want to abandon him and a shelter end up putting him to sleep because he would have no one there that he knew.  I was able to find a veterinarian who comes into your home and puts animals to sleep.  This was the best option for Griffin because he did not like leaving the house, the vets office would terrify him and  Would be worried he would escape and get hit or attack someone.  The vet came into our home and gave him the sedatives and then the medication to euthanize him.  As horrible as it sounds and feels in my heart I know it was the only option.  Sometimes none of the choices we have are good.  I am writing this because I want people to know it is hard to make this decision but sometimes we have to.  I will forever love and remember Griffin and I will always wish I never had to experience this.  I hope my story helps someone out there.

August 11, 2020

I have a dog that has slowly over the last few years started snarling, showing his fangs and snapping at me and then backs off.  At the time my spouse, a disabled veteran slowly getting sicker and sicker, was occupying my time plus I worked full time.  My husband died in January and this 50 pound dog has gotten worse in his old age.  He has some sight issues and is 15 but his nasty disposition has increased as if he blames me for my spouse being gone (they were close).  I have to give him a pain pill every night for his back issues and the other night he lunged at me from the couch pushing my chest wth his paws and claws and bruised me a lot (while snapping).  Nobody gets this unless they have been through it.  He has no other big health issues. So it’s not that.  He doesn’t do this to anyone else but me.  I’ve been putting up with him due to covid isolation and feeling awful if I had him put down due to my spouse.  But this last lunge was bad.  If he doesn’t have his pill at night he roams the house obsessively looking for my spouse.  This dog was a rescue in 2008 and he had been abused back then.  He was fine until about 2017 when my husband faced some serious health issues.  Thank you for your story.  I think I have to act on this before he hurts me.

August 9, 2020

Thank you for your article. Our beloved rescue has bitten & drawn blood 3 times in the 2 years we've had him. Outside of aggression towards those outside our family, he is the perfect dog in every way. When we've sought advice, we're told to seek more training. Despite claims he could be "fixed," no rescue will take him saying they could never find a home willing to take him in. I think maybe "get more training" has become a kind of rescue-world euphemism for considering putting him down, but it's sure unhelpful to adopters in our circumstances. This article is a rare openness that we really needed to feel permission to let him go for everyone's sake. Thank you.

July 29, 2020

I am bringing Buster to the vet today, to be euthanized.  Buster came to our loving home as a "rescue" as his "mom" had to be moved to a Nursing home.  He was 11 yrs old (3 years ago).  We wondered why her son did not want to take Buster as he was a cute 10lb Maltese who had been with his mother since a puppy. Initially we found he had "reactive" behavior.  Certain ways you picked him up or touched him caused him to lash out.  It was confusing to us.  Over the last 3 years this behavior has escalated.  I have been in the emergency room once.  And the other night I went to put him up on the bed and he snarled and snapped and had me cornered.  How can one be petrified at a 10lb maltese cornering you?  But I was.  I am so sad and over wrought but your story and comments is helping, somewhat. "Death is the ultimate loss but not the ultimate harm". I believe we gave him a great additional 3 years since he left his original home. Loving you to the Rainbow Bridge Buster

July 28, 2020

Thank you. I decided with my vets help that our dog could not be trusted before anyone was seriously hurt thank God. Even though I know I could not have kept her or risked giving her to someone else, even though I know I had to make that decision, it was AWFUL. Thank you for helping me feel less alone.

July 16, 2020

This was so helpful, my dog attacked my son he had to get 20 stitches on his face. I was looking for a rescue for her because I did not want her to be euthanized and thought the dog needed to be in a home without kids. When I was at work 3 days ago she nipped my daughters face. My husband took her to be put to sleep while I was at work. I didn’t even get to see her before. I am so upset I knew she wasn’t going to be staying with us but I am devastated and so angry about the whole situation. I feel like a part of my heart got ripped out and I don’t know how I can forgive my husband right now. I know what he was thinking and he was solving a problem. I just wish I could have said good bye

July 15, 2020

I am considering committing the ultimate betrayal - putting down my 3 year old aussie, Nigel, who loves me more than anything in the world. He would do anything and everything to protect me... but that is the problem. He began showing signs of aggression towards other dogs around 6 months old. When he was a little over a year old, he knocked down two 1-year old children at our housewarming party, but we just chalked it up to never being around children before. His aggression towards all animals and people (except anyone he has known since we got him at 10 weeks old) has only gotten worse. A few months ago he bit a 12 year old child on the ribcage, completely unprovoked. He is the most beautiful, smart, and active dog I have ever had, but I never know when he is going to flip a switch and attack. We hired a trainer, but even after four sessions, she still couldn't get close without him attempting to lunge and bite. We have to put him away whenever we have company and I dread the idea of him slipping out and attacking a neighborhood kid or animal. I got married 5 months ago and my husband and I are eager to start a family, but, at the end of the day, I cannot trust my aussie and his unpredictable behavior enough to let him share a home with a child. I wish more than anything I could find a suitable home for him, but I know that would be irresponsible considering his aggressive history. I broke down in tears after an honest conversation with my vet last night when he said, “Typically this type of behavior only gets worse. Once Nigel takes it too far with your child or someone else's, your heart will never be the same." Please send prayers my way as I face one of the most difficult decisions of my life. I feel treacherous and helpless, but I know it is the right decision for my ticking time bomb pup. Thank you to everyone who has shared their experiences. I resent that any of us have been put in this position, but it helps knowing that I am not alone.

Laura D
July 15, 2020

I read this article today as I face putting to sleep my fur baby for tragically taking the life of my neighbors dog. I only had her for 1 year and never thought this would ever happen. I’m broken hearted and at a loss for words. She was a rescue that I adopted a little over a year ago. I wish I could’ve done something different and I certainly wish I could rewind time. I know in my heart it’s the right thing to do. This article gives me peace knowing that as the years go on the pain subsides little by little. Thank you for writing this. I’ve realized that sometimes we as owners can do everything right, but sometimes bad things happen and we aren’t in control of every minute of our life. My heart goes out to everyone facing similar circumstances as it is very painful.

Rex's Mom
July 7, 2020

I am at the six month mark of having to put down my 60 lb aggressive floof. I still cry and want to bury my face in his fur so badly that sometimes I think I can still smell him in my tears. I know I made the right decision, but the vet euthanasia visit was incredibly traumatizing (the vet made me wait almost 3 hours before agreeing to euthanize him, then proceeded to do something wrong the first time she tried - I can’t believe I put an animal I loved through that ordeal and I’ll never be the same). Anyways, I have read this article more times than I can count, and it always helps. Thank you.

July 7, 2020

This was very helpful, especially the comments. My husband and I just had to make the very painful and heartbreaking decision to euthanize our aggressive 14 month dog. I am so lost and upset and guilt ridden even though I know it was the right choice as he was unpredictably aggressive. Sometimes I feel like I will never be able to forgive myself. Reading all these stories and the similarities helped put our situation into perspective. Thank you everyone for sharing. I wish there was a way to reach out to some of you to see how you're doing and talk.

June 30, 2020

Stacia, I understand how you feel but trust me the issues will continue to escalate. The dog can’t control it and how would you feel if he really did some damage to your son? I commented on putting our barely 3 year old Shiba Inu boy down two months ago and its been hard ever since ultimately it was the right decision for us, for my other girl dogs and for him. You are definitely not alone as you can see by the numerous comments. Every day I wish that he grew up different, where did that sweet puppy go that we brought in at 3 months but as he matured the aggression was getting worse. We tried to work with him, give him chances, full vet check up with nothing wrong that they could find. You can’t band aid what they already have in them that they themselves can’t control. I struggled everyday wanting to know why this happened. We didn’t mistreat him nor punish him when he had his incidents as we didn’t want fear aggression to then be an issue on top of what he already had going on. That week before the incident I had bought calming bites, a muzzle for him (as I was afraid to treat him if he was injured incase he might bite me), and PetSafe spray shield to try to separate the dogs if he fought with one of my girls (and we always seemed to be bit during the process). Looking back it was not a healthy situation to get these sort of things just to have him as part of our household. My husband had been attacked by him just from petting him goodnight and I will never forget witnessing it nor my husband admits now that every time he thinks about it that it scares him. He still has no feeling in his thumb and not sure if he ever will. He has a constant reminder of scars from what our boy had done to him but my husband doesn’t blame him and still loves him but he knows he had something that he could not control. Up to that point I was becoming scared of him afraid of the next incident. My dog was 32lbs and I can imagine what your dog of 130lbs could do. We will never forget the incident and while making the decision had to discuss the what if scenarios. What if it was me and not my husband I would not have acted as quickly as my husband did, what if it was to my elderly mother in law, my friend, another family member? What if we were sleeping when the attack happened and we could not get out of the bed and get him away from him? It really is scary situation as heartbreaking as it maybe it maybe the best for you and your husband and him. He is suffering from something he can’t control. I know the affects our boy left behind on us, I see my girl dogs out there sniffing something together and I tense up as our boy had attacked one of my girls in a similar situation, or giving the girls a treat again my boy had attacked both of my girls during an instance like this. It take a while to not walk on eggshells anymore. I know you think of the 98% great times but how much more do you allow the 2% to escalate into something much more worse? Remember the good times with him, how much you love him and understand the decision your making is for the good of you, your family and your dog.

June 20, 2020

Thanks for sharing what you went though.  Between your story and the comments, I at least don’t feel as alone in my situation.  We adopted my heart dog when he was a year old.  He is now 5.  He is a perfect dog 98 percent of the time.  The other 2 percent has always been issues I successfully addressed like reactivity to other dogs on walks, not accepting and being aggressive to another dog we had rescued...we successfully got through these issues .  It took me over a year to have him getting along with the other rescue and it was the focus of my life but I did it.  Over the past year though, he has shown very disturbing aggression to family members.  There were a few instances where he growled at my husband and lunged toward him muzzle punching and snapping without breaking skin  when he came into the bedroom at night.  I was able to call him off.  Then, he suddenly snarled and lunged up at the face of one of my children one day when he approached my son and my son gave him a light pet.  His teeth made contact with my sons face but did not leave a mark. I had a physical done at the vet where nothing unusual was found and I was given some calming supplements to try.  He seemed better for 3 months...super tolerant of things that you would think might set a dog off.  Yet, for some reason, over the past 2 weeks he started seeming stressed again (licking his nose a lot, following me around Etc).  Then, the other night my husband went into the bedroom after I was in bed and, as he often does, went over to pet our dog.  He had been awake and looking at him so he wasn’t woken from sleep.  As my husband started to walk away, our dog growled, lunged at him, pinned him against the door and started attacking.  I had to throw a blanket over him to get him to stop long enough for my husband to escape.  He only had one shallow puncture wound but it seems like each incident has gotten worse.  I have an Appt with the only behaviorist in our area but she is booked until sept.    I could understand if a dog growled to get a person to back away but why would a dog attack so ferociously AFTER the person has already moved away??  I should also note that we are talking about a 130 lb giant breed dog here.  I’m not saying these issues are any less horrifying when it’s a small dog, but I think the risk of severe injury may at least be a little less.  I don’t think he could be rehomed given his size and the circumstances.  I can’t wrap my head around the thought of possibly euthanizing him.  I mean one of my worst nightmares has always been the thought of losing him to illness or even old age because I’m so bonded to him that I don’t know how I will handle losing him.  I haven’t slept for nights over this whole situation.  I live in fear of something else happening before our appt and I’ve done enough behavior modification training in the past to know there is no easy fix and there will be a lot of hard work ahead.  This is all taking a toll on my marriage as well now.   My dog knows I’m upset and I feel like traitor even reading an article about euthanasia while he  is looking at me adoringly and acting like the sweetheart he always has been to me.  

Pearl Osmond
June 19, 2020

Your article helped me so much, thank you for sharing. My heart is also broken for 3 days now since I had my dog put down. Tiger was only 18 months old. Up until he was 1 year he was the best dog, loving,listened to commands, travelled with me on planes and in many airports. However one day he nipped at me, then he started showing teeth, growling, and once he got out of his pen and bit the neighbour who was trying to catch by offering him a dog treat. Shortly after he bit my young cat 5 times on her ears. So I booked a full health exam. The vet said there is nothing physically wrong with him and that he is wired to defend and bite. So I made the decision to put him down. I am crying while writing this but I know I made the right decision although it was the hardest thing I have ever done. Yes I too was walking on eggshells for at least 4 months before saying goodbye. I was in fear that he would get out of his pen or run out the front door and bite a child, or even me. As he nipped at me one night while sleeping. He was adorable smart, funny but something wrong happened in his DNA. I accept my decision and although people, some people say I should of tried more or did more, it wasn't an option. He was covered under insured for behavioural therapy but the vet said it is an uphill battle and a long one. It wasn't fair for Tiger or for me. Now he is in a better place and I miss him so much. Thank you for your story and sharing.

June 17, 2020

Thank you so much for sharing your story and for everyone commenting their stories here. Yesterday we euthanized our 18 month old pit bull Bill, after months of specialist training, four months of Prozac, and two vets (one a behavioural specialist) recommending that we euthanize. At least every other day for months on months, there would be an episode of where Bill was fine and out of nowhere he would flip and attack one of us. A couple of the most memorable instances were when he was sitting in my lap sleeping and he sits up and starts licking my face and all of a sudden attacks, while I roll off the couch to get away. Another time my son and I were lying in bed watching tv with Bill on the foot of the bed and all of a sudden he jumps up and hovers over my son viciously snarling growling and barking. I was able to grab him by the collar while my 12 year old son got away. We learned how to read his body language and avoid triggers of being in his space and I think that’s the only reason why we didn’t have more instances than we did.  We walked on eggshells and altered our lives for months to accommodate him. For example, he would get up and bark everytime my son sat on the couch with us. Literally not two days could go by without an aggressive incident towards us by him and we were getting increasingly scared that someone would get hurt as his behavior was escalating. Now I sit here heartbroken and feeling guilty that we could not fix him. I tried to rehome him several times thinking it was something we were doing wrong despite all the training we did with him, but the specialist vet advised against it because we would be responsible for other bites in the future. When trying to find comfort about this decision, I found euthanasia is mostly written about for old or sick dogs, but now that we have had this experience, I hope our experience helps others and knowing that sometimes there’s nothing you could have done and the safety of yourself and your family comes first when all the warning signs are there that something worse is going to happen.

Renee E
June 16, 2020

Our 6 year old chow/shepard mix was adopted at 6 months. He had shown aggression to my young granddaughter and other children in the past, lunging and growling but not biting. Then, about a year ago, he nipped a six year old and broke the skin. slight about a year ago. When my adult son came to live with us in March, Baxter often growled and acted aggressively toward him. Today he bit my son  in the hand, just for reaching down to attach his leash for a walk. I'm looking into behavior modification training but from what I've read it may be too late. Thanks for everyone who shared their stories here. It's a tough place to be with a pet who is good - 99 percent of the time.

June 1, 2020

Thank you so much for this article, it was something I really needed to hear. Tomorrow we put down our 1 1/2 year old lab mix Drake. Even as I’m writing this I can’t believe it’s actually happening. We adopted Drake from a pound when we was around 9 months old (they said he’d been found on the streets and they weren’t sure how old he was) and he was the sweetest dog! He loved to play and cuddle much more than any dogs we’ve owned. Despite being a big dog his favorite thing to do is to get up on your lap and lick your face. For the first 6 months, he seemed like the perfect dog, he was easy to train and got along with everyone, even our cats. Eventually we started to notice some growling—if people sat on his bed while he was in it, or touched his food bowl while he was near it, or if you touched him while he was lying down. The last one started to become a problem because he always wanted to lie down on our feet, but if we moved to do something he would growl. I’m a college student living with my parents and two younger siblings, so there was always people coming in and out of the house, and Drake seemed fine with them until out of nowhere he bit a friend of my brother’s who he’d known for months. It wasn’t hard enough to draw blood, but it scared us enough to get a trainer and try to work on his aggression issues. We tried many of the solutions that you did, but he only seemed to get worse, he started barking and growling at everyone that came in the house, and lunging at strangers on walks. He even began showing more aggression towards his family, air-nipping and biting my brother, my mom, and my grandmother. There was never anything serious enough to draw blood so we held out hope that we could train the aggression out of him, somehow. We set up an appointment with a vet to look at getting some anxiety medication, but then the situated escalated. After his first couple bites we stopped leaving him on the yard by himself, since this neighborhood has a lot of kids and we didn’t feel we could trust him on his own. Unfortunately he escaped while a neighbor boy was coming to our house to deliver eggs and bit him on the arm. The boy was wearing a thick coat so the bite wasn’t serious, but the neighbors were terrified and so were we. Since then we’ve been “walking on eggshells,” like many people in the comments, trying to keep him from interacting with strangers and crating him whenever we people over. He hates the crate though and cries constantly when we put him in it, so we didn’t feel that was a solution. Somehow I always assumed that even though he’d shown some aggression with us he was mostly just aggressive with strangers, but finally he turned on my brother, who was his best friend. While he was on my brother’s lap getting petted like he always did, he suddenly turned and lunged for my brother’s face. My brother managed to shove him off but if he hadn’t the bite could’ve seriously hurt him. That hardest part of all this is the unpredictability; 90% of the time he is the sweetest, most loveable dog, and then something in him snaps and he turns. I’m heartbroken but I can’t think of what else we can do for him, I don’t want to give him to a shelter since no one will likely adopt him and he’ll be killed, so I’d rather he spends his final moments with family. I wish there was something I could do to change him but we can’t live with the fear that he could escape and seriously hurt someone. Reading this article and the comments has been incredibly relieving to know that others have gone through this same pain, and to those going through it now, I am so sorry and you have my support and sympathy. We love these animals so much, but sometimes euthanasia is really the best thing we can do for them, as heartbreaking as it is. I’ll never forget you Drake, thank you for all of the wonderful memories and fun! I hope you find the peace you couldn’t find in this life. 

May 28, 2020

Two days ago we were forced to make a similar decision, only it was for 2 of our 4 labs (ranging in age from 2-13).  The 2 and 4 year old were mother/son and our oldest two are 12 and 13 (our 13 year old male was the youngest's father).  The younger two were becoming increasingly aggressive toward our oldest male.  They had attacked him a few months ago, unprovoked, and I was able to get them off him relatively quickly thank God.  They had both begun to almost attack each other when we would let them outside of their kennel (they live inside with us but when we go to work/etc., we have an outdoor kennel with dog house they use). I couldn't put the two older dogs with them in the kennel because we didn't trust them not to hurt them.  On a few instances, the younger ones would snap & growl at my oldest male.  The younger female started showing aggression toward our children (low growls and nipping - which we NEVER tolerated and were not ignoring at all). Two days ago, after a completely calm/peaceful morning, I took them out to relieve themselves.  As they trotted out in front of me, the youngest 2 attacked my oldest - completely unprovoked and violently.  I tried everything I could to stop them - I kicked, punched, shocked them with their e-collars, nothing registered.  My neighbor heard my screams and he helped me separate them.  My children witnessed it all. Traumatic doesn't begin to cover it.  We had the female from 8 weeks old and the youngest was born in my home, so our bond was incredible.  My husband and I are devastated but we couldn't risk our other dogs safety or trust that they wouldn't someday turn on our kids.  That was not a risk we were willing to take.  Had my neighbor not intervened, they would have killed my oldest.  No doubt. The vet advised against re-homing them, as their aggression was increasingly concerning. She also suggested it may be due to a genetic neurological disorder (the youngest had started having seizures about 6 months ago and the female had been "off" since we got her). They typically were amazing dogs - fun and playful, but we just never knew when something would trigger them.  There were no obvious situations that would set them off, so it was impossible to manage.  But we tried to do our best with obedience training, lots of exercise, positive reinforcement...It was the most heart-wrenching decision we've ever made.  I don't wish that on anyone.  We now have to live with that decision and guilt. Thank you for giving me an outlet to get this out.  We are completely shattered.

May 20, 2020

Today was the last straw for me.  My 7 year old chocolate lab/pit mix has shown me she can't be fixed.   During our walk (we walk our dog 3-4 times a day) she tried to attack 2 different dogs.  She had a high pitched bark she does when she wants to get something and would not correct her behavior pulling on the leash, trying to back out of it so she could escape.  I had to hold her down.  My efforts didn't phase her one bit.   She likes our other 2 dogs but not others.  We have 3 dogs including her.  Diamond was a stray puppy my sister rescued and pawned on me because she ate threw her outside AC unit wires. She went on vacation and never picked her back up when she got back.  I love dogs, so I kept her. I already had a 1 year old Australian Shepherd border collie mix I rescued from the pound who's the best dog ever. From day 1 Diamond was food aggressive without provocation.  She's smart too.  She will walk the perimeter and find the weak spots in the fence and escape to catch and kill possums, squirrel, snakes, cats...she has no fear and doesn't give up.  She ate through fences, kennels, will push on anything until she opens it.  Because of all the escapes she has scars on the side of her body and she has healed scars on her face.   My vet asked me once if she was a fighting dog. I have a son, she tolerates him but I never leave them alone together she's never been aggressive to him ever,but I don't 100% trust her. The other posts have made me realize that, I too, am walking on eggshells. If she hurts my son or someone else or kills someone else's dog I don't think I could live with myself. I would be very angry with myself, and before that happens, after 7 years I have decided that it's time for me to make this choice.  It's the right choice for my family.  As I write this I am crying.  Realization that you can't fix something you love and have faught for, for 7 years.  It's been the cause of fights with my husband. It hurts me.   From day one. She wasn't "wired right".  I've tried and failed. It's hard to even think about it, but I will be there for her till her last breath and remember only the good of her. She will always be my Diamond in the rough.  Thank you all for sharing your stories.  Your love for your loss is evident, sometimes the right choices are the hardest to make. God Bless

May 12, 2020

We made the decision and put our Mini Aussie down today. After 4 years of trying everything, it is clear something was never right with her. What I struggle with the most, is what many of you have talked about. "what if she never does it again". She was such an amazing and smart dog in our regular lives, but the second any other adult or child were in her reach she would become so unpredictable. We honestly probably let it go on too long. We tried all the tricks and training and medicine to avoid the ultimate truth, and that was she cannot be fixed. After so many years I know exactly how to keep her away from certain triggers. I felt like I could manage her aggression by preventing attacks. this method was so stressful because I worried constantly about what if firemen need into our home, what if when I'm signing for a package delivery she slips out and mauls the worker, what if she jumps out the partially opened car window to attack someone, what if she slips out of her collar...the list goes on. I really have been carrying a huge burden around with that method. However, with a baby due in no time at all, I realized that I cannot control my mostly good dog well enough to keep everyone safe. Even if she accepted the baby (doubtful, kids are not her thing) I knew she would live constantly stressed as would I. I appreciate the quote about death being the ultimate loss, but not the ultimate harm. That rings so true. Watching my girl go limp in my husband's arms as we loved on her is a sight that will not leave my mind but I know it was right.

May 11, 2020

I am so thankful for this honest, balanced and well written article. My husband and I had to make the decision of putting our much loved 21 month Jack Russell x toy poodle down yesterday. Our little boy found it difficult to relax. Only able to find an element of this when he would cuddle on the bed with us in the early morning. Sadly, the final straw was my boy attacking me when I reached forward to touch his face. He let off a small growl but attacked my hands as I tried to move away. I ended up in hospital with punctured, swollen hands and the possibility of needing to have my wedding rings cut off. We had been working with a behaviourist and had been doing well. But I had noticed a change in his behaviour the day before. There was no other option for us. His behaviour had made the decision for us, even though we desperately wanted to keep him and make him happy. We will miss him scratching at our bedroom door in the morning, then padding around on the bed with a toy in his mouth, excited to see us, before settling down between us. Like many of you, I don't blame him for how he was. There was nothing to forgive, he wasn't able to help it. Whilst my heart is breaking now I will remember the best times with him, and there were many. I'm looking forward to the time when I will remember him with a heart full of love.

May 9, 2020

First I want to thank everyone sharing their stories. I think this helped me come to grips with the heart wrenching decision we had to make and know that we are not alone many struggle with the same issues. As I was searching trying to find answers to “why this happened, why we had to make this decision” I came across this article. I think it helped me more knowing so many have the same issue. We have two beautiful girl Shiba Inus that get along wonderfully. We had a third that passed away from old age and missing the 3 dog dynamics we went back to the breeder who had a boy available our first boy ever. My husband was thrilled to finally have another male in the house to bond with and he was known as “The Boy”. We brought him home at 3 months of age raised them all the same way trained them, loved they, they were our children. He was the sweetest boy. The two girls by this time were 2 and 3 years respectively. By 9 months he started picking fights with the girls so we had him fixed. Things calmed for a bit but we had a few issues with “misunderstanding” who’s  treat that was supposed to be and provoked a fight which resulted in getting bit breaking them up. By 1 ½ the boy was quiet fixated on hunting in the back yard killing many mice, rats and even a few birds. He was also getting quite barking aggressive with other dogs while he was in the yard and during walks. The first bite came to my husband when he went to lay with him and pet him when the dog freaked and bit my husband on the face and in a frenzy was barking at him. My husband smacked his nose to get his attention from the frenzy and he calmed down but was remorseful after came to him and me for attention. A similar situation happened a month later my husband had him in his lap petting him when again he freaked and bit my husband again in the face and the arm. Again in a frenzy. Same result he came to us like nothing happened after remorseful, needy not knowing what happed it seemed. A week later he came into the room where I was looking for attention and I was petting him as normal scratching his back when out of the blue bit my hand pretty hard. By this time his unprovoked biting was getting worse and he kept fighting with the girls. We went to the holistic vet explaining  the incidents and she didn’t find anything physically wrong with him so based on what we described she thought he had a “reactive liver” treated him with a Chinese herb that did help him it seemed he was back to his playful puppy self.  By the time he was 2 we had a few more incidents with him biting a few times he nipped at me but didn’t make contact. We also had a few incidents where laying in our bed we would reach down to pet him and he lifted his lip at us. He also attacked our 17 year old cat he grew up with causing a concussion. The fights were continuing with the girls again over treats or prey that he was hunting. He didn’t have any issues otherwise with the girls they could eat together, eat bully sticks, he didn’t resource guard anything but we did notice toys were his, if the girls were playing with one he had to come take it he was always demanding attention. He was super sweet too always coming over to be petted anywhere we were at he was next to one of us wanting to be loved or petted. If you know Shibas they can be very aloof and to themselves they are not a needy breed. This is what we really loved about him he was so loving at times. Fast forward to almost 3 years old, over the past few months the fights with the girls continued.  My oldest was almost in a depression she didn’t seem herself.  By this time my husband and I been bit about 4 times just breaking up dog fights. He nipped at my mother-in-law during a visit.  Then his past March he came over to sit near me on the couch at my feet and as I was petting him he turned and bit my hand this time he kept going after it. Luckily it was only one bite. We had already upped his herbal meds and took him to the vet for a checkup and bloodwork all came back perfect she found nothing wrong with him he was a healthy boy. Then in April we all were going to bed as normal The Boy came to the bedroom like normal and jumped up on our bench infront of the bed. My husband sat infront of him to pet him say goodnight as he has done many times before when the dog went into a furious rage frenzy attacking my husband biting him 4 times in the hand, my husband still had his other hand resting on him which he grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and tried to get him to stop and pull him off. By the time the fury past he was back to his puppy self like nothing happened. My husband was bleeding everywhere and The Boy just came over to him sitting at his feet like nothing just happened. My husband had to go to the ER for stitches. This by far was more than just a “leave me alone” bite it was a full on attack. By this time we made the difficult decision to have him put to sleep as much as we loved him, 90% he was a wonderful dog but he had this 10% unprovoked, unexplained fits of rage for no reason, no warning and all were different incidents. I was walking on egg shells around him wondering when the next bit would happen or if he was going to fight and hurt one of my girls, my friends or family members. After he was gone I found information on Rage Syndrome or idiopahthic aggression that described the same things we experienced with the boy. It comes on 1-3 years, usually bites people they are familiar with, same unprovoked bite incidents and they have no recollection what they did they come out of it needy wanting attention/assurance as they don’t know what happened. They say the dog has a glazed look which my husband noted had happed during the last incident. As rare as they say it is I believe this is what he suffered from and the outcome is usually the same the dog has to be put to sleep. We miss our boy every single day our heart aches for the loss that he did not live a full life but mentally he had an issues he could not control.

May 5, 2020

I have to put my dog to sleep this Thursday and it is the hardest thing I could imagine. I adopted my 6 year old Pitbull Rosie 2 years ago in one of the hardest times of my life. I was in college and looking back now, not ready for a dog, but I completely adore her and she has become my best friend. She came from the humane society and it was absolute love at first sight. I soon learned that she had very serious dog aggression a few days after bringing her home, and hired a trainer, which helped but didn’t solve her issues completely. She has always been completely fine with people until this past November when she lunged at my roommate who came into my room and bit her on the face. It was awful and completely traumatic for everyone. Rosie was taken by animal control and forced to do a 10 day quarantine and then I got to pick her up.  It was heat wrenching, she was skinny, filthy, and miserable. I couldn’t sleep the majority of the 10 days wondering if she was scared or confused or waiting for me. I paid the hospital bills for my roommate and my dog and I started working with her trainer  even more. I moved out of the house, and back home with my parents after the bite. I took a semester off from college because I couldn’t leave her alone. I didn’t care about the consequences and the toll it took on my lifestyle. I ended a serious relationship over keeping rosie because my partner felt I shouldn’t have her. To me Rosie was everything and still is. I was going to make it work. I had to, it’s Rosie. Friday one of my biggest fears happened, while I was gone my mom took her out and she slipped her slip lead (which was trainer recommended) and ran into the neighbors yard and attacked their dog, thankfully he is okay. I feel so awful about this for their dog, and for my parents who took us in and are now in a incredibly uncomfortable situation with their neighbor. This is the 3rd time she has gotten in a fight with another dog in two years, even with me trying to take as many precautions as possible. She has a human bite history. I love this dog more than anything and feel so incredibly guilty. I feel like she doesn’t deserve to die. My parents have said they want her out of the house and she is a liability which is understandable. I don’t have the money to move right now. I live in constant fear of another incident happening and am so incredibly attached to her. It is very hard to find a rescue to take a dog with a bite history and dog aggression, and even if I did, she would be unadoptable. I feel so guilty about the possibility of giving her to strangers where I have no control of what happens to her. The thought of this happening again haunts me, and her ending up in a shelter being taken away from me again. I have been unable to go to work because no one in my family feels comfortable taking her outside to use the bathroom except me. The thought of her attacking another dog and killing it or another person is terrifying. She is so so sweet and loving to me, but she flips a switch when she is around dogs. Her trainer agrees that this is the best option. The most humane one for her. She has lived a happy two years with me. I would rather end it on the best note possible and give her an amazing last day, then to have to surrender her and her be scared and lonely and most likely euthanized with strangers. I can’t risk this happening again. My sweet girl is laying beside me right now sleeping and I can’t stop crying and feeling like I am betraying her in the most awful way possible. I truly love this girl. She has changed my life for the best, and I am so heart broken.

Clyde Disney
May 5, 2020

My last dog was an American Pit. He and I were both males so we rough housed quite a bit. Sometimes he would bot a little too hard and I would Immediately loosen or back off. Often he would (kiss) the spot he bit too hard. His name was Yodi. He was hit by a truck running across the road after visiting my brother. It has been 10 years now. I still haven't been able to get another dog. I live alone.Diz

May 3, 2020

Thank you for this wonderful article and the updates. We rescued a crazy mix of a dog who was presumed to be around 6 months old. He was shy and did snap at us upon our first meeting, which should have been an indication to step back. However, we had lost our first baby, a beagle/american Eskimo mix a year earlier to lymphoma and i was so excited that my heart was opened to this little guy. I was pregnant within a month of adopting him so we got to work getting him to a behavioralist as his fear based aggression was not getting better. The behavioralist suggested rehoming or euthanasia and I scoffed at her. No hill is too high to climb! We lived through 3 years of cancer treatments, this is nothing! Fast forward to about 5 weeks ago, our dog jumped a fence and bit a neighbor completely unprovoked. I’m hoping to find a rescue to take him on, but after reading this it has really given me pause. He is unhappy unless he is alone with me and we have tried a lot to get him comfortable with our now 17 month old. You’ve given me a great insight that I needed and I thank you for that.

Elizabeth N
April 30, 2020

My husband and I recently made the choice to euthanize our 2 1/2 year old rat terrier after she bit, again, this time without warning. We adopted her when she was around 8 months old, she lost an arm in a car accident a few months before we rescured her. Then, two months later after adopting her when she was spayed her behavior changed. There was massive food aggression that slowly built up to aggresion in general--growling that turned into biting. We tried training her and a few different medications that semi-worked for a short amount of time. Her aggression got so bad that my sons or husband werenn't allowed to talk, look, or come near her without her growling or snapping at them. I know she was going to end up hurting one of us badly, she bit, breaking skin, around 10 times. Yet, I can't help the grief I feel for giving up on her. I never imagined I would feel this much pain in losing her. I'm trying to think of the good times, how much she loved going for a walk and playing with balls outside, but it only hurts more. I know it's only been a couple of days without her, that the pain will probably get better, but right now, it's more than I feel I can handle. However, it does help knowing that others have felt or feel the same way. So, thank you for writing this.

April 28, 2020

As I sit here with tears blurring my vision, I don’t feel so alone after reading this article. Last night, our dog attacked me in a very aggressive and scary way. Landing me a trip to the Er due to tendons being exposed, his bites went  down to my muscle. He is blind and has always had very anxious tendencies, but last night he went after me over and over again out of nowhere. No provocation and had me fearful in a way not many situations ever have. I know the right thing to do is to euthanize him, but my heart keeps thinking of the light hearted boy who loves to play with a ball, and track it in the backyard. I wouldn’t wish this decision or feeling on my worst enemy. Thanks for sharing  your story.

Phyllis DeGioia
March 13, 2020

Jessica, Few people try as hard and for as long as you did with your dog. I understand the grief and devastation. You are not a failure - please trust me on this one. My heart is with you.

March 11, 2020

Just like the commenter below, I too desperately needed to read this article.  My husband and I have been diligently working with a vet behaviorist for our beloved four year old mixed breed rescue pup since he was only a few months of age.  He has had extreme separation anxiety, hyperarousal,  and generalized anxiety since the day we rescued him from a high-kill shelter.  We have done everything in our power for our beloved little guy, he has had multiple medication trials, we use pheromone spray and collars, white noise machines throughout the home, music such as "through a dog's ear" when we are away.  Currently he's on more medicine than a human could likely tolerate and remain upright, and yet he's still so anxious and easily triggered.  We have turned our entire home into the most peaceful sanctuary for him that we can.  His only true comfort is when he can be around both of us and our other, smaller, jack russell terrier in a completely quiet space.  We have used counter conditioning, positive reinforcement, and given him all of the love and soothing support we can over the last four years. Despite all of this, he has had multiple escalating incidents over the years, from snapping at us to snapping at our other dog.  He tends to redirect his fear into aggressive acts towards her.  He has lunged and air snapped and mildly bitten her.  The other day, he finally bit her around the neck, creating severe puncture woulds that we almost could not stop the bleeding from at home.  We are sickened with grief and beyond devastated.  Maybe we were just fooling ourselves thinking we could help him...but I truly don't believe anyone else would have given this much effort, time, and love to him thus far.  We don't want to make this choice.  To say I am heartbroken doesn't even cover it.  I feel like a failure and I feel horrible for all of us involved.  We have been keeping our dogs relatively separated as we navigate next steps for the safety of everyone-- and it is heartbreaking to see how sad he is not being able to be with our other dog....but I know I cannot trust him.  I love him so much, and I initially wrote this off as an option for him entirely.  But now I just don't know if I can live with watching his anxiety escalate as they are kept separated.  And I don't think anyone else would take on the responsibility of his care as we have...which I only touched the surface of in what was written above.  It is just a completely soul crushing situation. 

Phyllis DeGioia
March 5, 2020

Hi Peter, I'm so sorry to hear that you are undergoing this incredibly difficult experience. I know you are wrecked about it. It's such a difficult circumstance like no other. If he is this bad before he's a year old, it's painful to imagine what he would be like in a few years. You are not alone. And when you go to do this difficult thing, remember that my heart is with you.

March 4, 2020

I really needed to read this article. I'm about to euthanize my 10 month old Australian Shepherd that has been aggressive since 10 weeks old. It started with resource guarding of bully sticks at 10 weeks, multiple bite incidents (no, not puppy mouthiness, legit growl, snarling bites).  Positive only trainer was bitten 3-4 times before he was even 4 months old. The most painful part is the dog progressed so well in all other aspects of training and he is sweet 90% of the time. It's the following unprovoked attacks that pushed us to this decision. Biting and attacking my girlfriend while they were laying on the couch together watching TV and she was petting him. Attacking and biting her sister seemingly out of nowhere while he was laying on his back being pet on the floor. Attacking any mother's 15 year old Schnauser/poodle mix for no reason and almost killing him (blood and stitches).. We went to 3 behaviorists, tried 4 trainers and had all the medical workups available. Tried prozac for 2 months, CBD treats. While we are able to predict certain aggressive beavhior and avoid it -- nothing has mitigated the random outbursts. We finally met with the top behaviorist in the state (3 month waiting list) and her conclusion was that this will only get worse and in no circumstances should this dog be around a child. My girlfriend and I are wrecked over this, but ultimately I cannot justify the risk and would not be able to live with good conscious if he ever attacked a child. I now see that rather than reduce his quality of life and ours, the compassionate thing to do here is let him rest peacefully. It gives me some relief to know we are not alone in this.

Phyllis DeGioia
February 24, 2020

I'm sorry you're experiencing this situation and those feelings. We rarely hear about cats going through this, although I don't know why. I know it is difficult emotionally, but I hope you come to find a peaceful place recognizing that his aggression was causing your entire family to change their habits and not live the life they normally would if they didn't have an aggressive cat. You couldn't enjoy having visitors, your cat was seriously unhappy, you were physically hurt several times, and all of you were unhappy with the situation. You gave your cat the best gift you could: being released from whatever caused his unhappiness and aggression. I do hope that you eventually find your way towards another companion cat. It would likely bring you the joy you should have experienced with this cat. There are few things in life as comforting as a purring cat in your lap. My heart is with you.

Emotional Wreck
February 23, 2020

I came across this article at a very tough time in my life. I rescued a little kitty 6 years ago and he changed our lives. We loved him unconditionally, purchased toys, gave him the best food..he was my second son. He was ok as a kitty, but once attacked me in bed when i was trying to sleep and he would not so i i grabbed him to put him off the bed- i remember the fear i felt- he chased me in to the lounge room and i ran away and quickly closed the door. It was all touch and go from there. He hated kids and unfamiliar people. for the past 6 years, i could hardly open my front door or keep my blinds open in case he saw another cat and went ballistic. In my previous house, he had a biggish enclosed garden and used to spend a lot of time there and was ok i guess- but once he escaped and promptly got in to a fight with another cat and was injured. He has attacked my son (his main care giver) several times. We moved house last october and he was really unsettled about it- and never quite got comfy in his new home. Our neighbour has 2 cats and every time he saw them he would go beserk- my son ended up in the emergency department last friday and had to go in to theatre for treatment of his wounds. Our life was one of fear- i could not sit in my lounge and watch tv because if he came up and even sniffed a cat or anything outside there was the potential that he would attack one of us We bought him a cat enclosure in our current house to keep him safe and to stop him from harming himself by running away or picking a fight with other cats in the street (and yes he was desexed), and he was basically taken in to there every day when he wanted to go outside, and he would meow to came back in and would go back inside. But he was unhappy, never wanted to play with his toys, looked depressed and sad. Every time people came over i would have to put him in a room, every time a child came over, i would be so tense and on edge that i could not wait for them to leave, because i had guilt that i had to put my baby in a room, but also could not risk him attacking a child/adult. Although we tried to give him the best life, he had no quality of life. How said is it for a cat to always be on edge and tense? always anxious..not being about to roam outside? not being able to relax apart from when he is asleep? We made the VERY difficult decision to put him to sleep, to release him in to the peaceful life he deserves. I feel guilt, i feel like i failed him, i feel like there was more i could do..meds etc BUT i was told meds destroy their organs and then i would be contributing to more misery for him. It is a vicious cycle..feeling guilty, missing him, feeling guilty, missing him, feeling like you are a cruel piece of crap, feeling like you could have done more, feeling some more guilt..the agony is destroying me..the thought of "did i do the right thing?" is destroying me..but it is done and cannot be reversed. I know he will always be around us because he knew how much we loved him, he will always be my baby and i will never get another cat. But now i am not living in fear and now i know he is roaming the mountain tops and is happier and safer and i will meet him in the after life.

Heart Dog
February 16, 2020

Terrific article.  Dealing with a landlord that just can't seem to comprehend something is "hugely" wrong with dog that growls and snaps at me, other residents of house, visitors, dogsitters, howls/whines at all hours of night,etc.  Dog growls/snaps, has bit me without breaking skin but owner denies anything is wrong.  This IS NOT A HAPPY DOG whatsoever.  Says dog is fine with her and urges that live here to try to make friends with dog.  Ah, No Thank You - I do not feel like getting bit.  Dog is a rescue (or that's what is being told), lays on sofa all day (owner works sometimes) & fed on sofa (because that is only place it will eat).  Am forced to go by this unpredictable animal multiple times a day for use of bathroom/kitchen.  Have owned large dogs for decades (some rescue) and have never had anything like this.  Am guessing this dog has never been socialized or taught proper manners.  Owners says behaviorist is "too expensive" but then wanted one of us renters to take care of dog while they go off on trip (as they just wanted to go somewhere).  IMHO:  a full time behaviorist is needed or at least an assessment, return to rescue where the dog was gotten, or euthanized.  Supposedly, owner felt bad because dog was alone in a kennel at rescue - one does not adopt/rescue dog because they feel bad for it.  Every rescue I've worked with works with client to ensure once the dog is placed it will be a fur-ever home which has been the case for me.  Dog may also have cognitive issues as a result of age.  Just a time bomb waiting to explode and someone being bitten severely.

February 13, 2020

Thank you for your article as it is timely.  I am putting my dog down tomorrow afternoon due to aggression and unpredictability.  I love him but after killing my cat, bite history and turning aggressive on people he knows we have no choice.  We have trained him, had top behaviorists, medications, CBD oils, thunder coats etc.  The vet has been wonderful throughout this difficult decision making process and believes this is the right solution.  It has controlled our lives over the past few years.  Even though I know it's the right decision it is crushing me.  It's nice to read all the comments and realize you aren't the only one who has gone down this pass.

Toni Brown
January 18, 2020

The words 'thank you' seem so tiny in comparison to the depth of grattitude I feel for you sharing your journey.  But I offer them anyway...thank you.  I sat with my best friend/companion/handsomest boy Jacob yesterday as he left this world.  A decision I had to make to protect others due to his bite history and a final incident where he did not heed my command and nipped at a neighbors son.  Jacob may have been my sweetest boy, but at 77lbs I am aware of the terrible possibilities.  I feel as if my soul is in pieces, I don't feel like myself.  But what I do feel is that I made the right decision.  I still feel a measure of guilt but that I'm learning from reading other stories is just part of being a member of this awfully specific club.  For the past 6 years he has been at my side, I still feel like I hear him in the house sometimes.  I absolutely ache for him and fall to pieces at the drop of a dime....but I find comfort in knowing he no longer suffers from crippling social and separation anxiety.  The last 24 hours of his life were a reflection of all the favorite things we like to do, and about a 100 treats...and lots of potato chips and cuddles.  Sitting with him as he left was the hardest thing I have ever done, but it never crossed my mind not to.  I wanted it to be my voice he heard, my scent he smelled, my touch he felt as he drifted to sleep and began to snore.  To have my hands on him as he transitioned.  it's th very least I could do for him.  I realize that in making this gut wrenching decision, I made impossible the possibility of anyone getting hurt and him going through the inevitable without me.  I gave him love, dignity, and comfort.  Remembering this helps in those moments I miss him so much it feels like all the color has gone out of the world.

January 17, 2020

The first thing i have to say is, im so sorry for anyone going through this as well. I never want to feel like this or have anyone feel like this ever. Yesterday was the hardest and worst day of my life...I got suki a shiba inu 5 years ago. she was about 8 months old and being given up by a couple that "could'nt have her anymore". I had a dog before but it was a family dog, she was mine. I spoiled her so much, the best toys, best treats, best everything. She was perfect to me. After a few weeks i noticed she was kind of axious with noises and such, would hide behind the couch sometimes and such. A few month later was the first instance, she snap at my friends hand trying to fix her bowl for her. I was in shock and just kinda dismissed it. she became more and more food agressive over time, we isolated it by hand feeding her or just not bothing her. sometimes she would stand over her food for hours just drooling and staring at it. over time the hiding behind the couch got worse. she would sit there and growl..this was'nt my suki. Its like she was a different dog, a demon inside her. a hour later she would come out and be super loving like nothing ever happened. Then one night shes in my room with me i go to bend down to pat her back and she turns and snaps and grabs my face, in shock i start bleeding into my hand, she looks at me and starts trying to lick me knowing she did wrong. I had to get a stitch in my lip that night. Over time she got my girlfriends nose, my dads feet and stomach, my moms hands, and even my cousins boyfriends lip too....2 weeks ago i bent down to get her leash and she came charging at me and latched onto my hand, it was a bad bite. We tried calming treats, meds and we were on our second trainer this week. This has all been happening in over 4 years. We tried diffrent ways of training her and everything. Our lastest trainer said that it may be something just not right in her head. She tried hard to train her but at some points we couldnt even get near her. she just kept getting worse and worse as time went on. Yesterday I put to sleep the one thing I loved most in this life. My heart, my mothers and my girlfriends heart are so broken over this. we have so many questions in our minds if it was the right thing to do. She was so perfect most of the time, car rides, playing fetch and with toys, doing tricks everything. then out of the blue she would just flip to being not herself. Its only been one day and i miss her so much. I can't stop thinking if it was my fault, if i should of did something sooner? Maybe i didnt try hard enough, maybe i was too lazy and lax...But there were so many what ifs too. what if she bite someone like a stranger, what if me and my girlfriend has a baby sometime soon? I could'nt trust her with a baby, and i could'nt rehome her. I just really hope this was the right choice, i really hope where ever she is now, she knows how much she really was loved, how sorry i am that i couldnt fix her, and that someday if she forgives me ill take her on another walk and play some fetch when i see her again on the other side. I love you Suki and you'll never be forgotten or replaced <3

January 14, 2020

We are going to euthanize our sweet girl Coco in 5 days.  My heart says no and my mind says yes.  Honestly, my mind flip flops and it is so hard.  Coco came to us at 7 months.  I was hesitant to get a cane corso (italian mastiff), after researching, but I saw so many sweet outcomes (most of them).  My bf was experienced with a large dog. Coco comes home and I fall in love. It wasn't long before she and our other dog had a terrible fight. Our other dog was hurt and getting Coco to let go was verrrry difficult. Dogs do fight (a quick snap or growl), but this was intense. We realized it was food related and took precautions after. A few fights occurred since, but we are able to stop them fast with a quick NO! I did not see a fight but my bf pulled them apart. In the process a chair fell and our other dog, Bear, needed staples on his head. It was an indirect consequence  but it still happened. My bf took her to a 5 week training program and she did well, but she jumped allover me non-stop and drove me bonkers! We could not have guests without her lunging and sometimes growling. We, ultimately, had a special crate built, but still can't have company. She has improved soooo much.  We've had her 1.5 years and a few months ago, I could, finally, walk her.ashe stopped jumping allover me.  When is say allover me, I literally, had to stand for an hour or better to keep her off.  As much as I say she misbehaved, she is a good dog. She can't help her size and she's still so young. We always make excuses because nothing major happened and she's been improving and a joy to be with. A couple months ago, she broke through a rolled up car window at a store. Thankfully, my bf was in the car and she didn't hurt anyone. She scared the hell out of the people though. We fixed the window and took additional precautions.  This never happened before and certainly, wouldn't again and it hasn't to date. We went to the vet to talk about her behavior and started giving her a calming supplement.  We called a highly recommended dog behavioralist, but we hadn't heard back and we thought we had time. This is something we feel so guilty about delaying. Since our vet visit, she has been an angel. We knew she'd never go to the dog park or in crowded public spaces, but we knew the limits.  Last week, the unthinkable happened. Out of, absolutely, nowhere she had a burt and went through the fence like it wasn't there. It makes no sense, but her endorphins were high. There were a few dogs. One that barks at her all the time, but she blew past them and attacked a puppy. I managed to get my fist in her mouth and pull her off.  I put her in a headlock and laid on her.  The puppy laid on its back bleeding around the neck and not moving. Coco got free of me and attacked again. One of the other dogs was biting her and she didn't notice.  This went on for a half hour. I was exhausted and helpless. Eventually, i could reach my phone. My daughter came out and got the puppy. She was halfway through the yard and I desperately, screamed for her to run, because I almost lost grip again.  It took me a bit to get Coco back home.  During all of it Coco wasn't Coco. That part of her shut off. I got the puppy to the vet. She missed major ateries, but the pup had multiple stitches and a drain placed in his neck.  When I reached the owner, he cried like a baby. It was terrible. We thought - let's get a 6 ft fence in, an underground fence 2 ft in from that, more training, anxiety meds, a muzzle...I wanted a taser and pepper spray.  After what I saw, I was terrified of what could happen. My bf swears she'd never harm us or the kids. I'd like to think not, but what if?? I called the vet to see about meds, lined up the fence guy in 2 weeks, got an appt with the trainer who wanted a consult and didn't sound optimistic.  The vet asked us not to bring her in and said she needs euthanized.  He was teary, but he feels the risk is too great. We plan to follow the recommendation, but it's so hard. She's healthy. She's loving. She's family.  The what if is the problem. Nothing else may never happen and we are going to - let's call it what it is - we are going to kill her. She trusts and loves us. How can we do this based on a maybe??? It is tearing us apart. The guilt and sadness is beyond measure. Sunday is just days away and while I think we should because if she hurts a person, the guilt and yes liability would be unbelievable, but I don't know how we are going to go through with it!  What if nothing ever happens - we get the bigger fence, more training etc. What if it was a terrible incident never to see anything like it again? The what if goes both ways and we are playing god. I am sick over it.

January 12, 2020

Wow! If I substituted cat for all of the times dog appeared in your most interesting, harrowing and challenging tale, you would have been describing my life with Hoover, a most handsome, smart feline, but with a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde temperament, whose lunging attack to my face came when he was only three months old! And yet out of immense love for him, I kept him for another two years, trying everything I could think of to stop or avert his nearly daily, unpredictable attacks. Having lymphedema puts me at higher risk from any bite or scratch (mostly bites; and the things he damaged from chewing - one would think I lived with a puppy! Walking on eggshells, you say? You better believe it! And just before making the heart wrenching decision to give him up, it dawned on me that this must be what a battered woman feels like. Emotional pain and confusion and disbelief... all wrapped up in a deep love that says tomorrow will be different or maybe such and such caused that episode. Though I had been instructed to return him to the local humane society I adopted him from, I feared for the safety of those who would also fall in love with his beauty and might have children or others in the home he could harm when adopted again - though with the honesty I would have shared in the ‘return’ documents, I’d have been shocked if they would have wanted him back. After sharing my agonizing story on FB, a friend with a horse barn offered to take him in to keep her mouse population down. It seemed the best case scenario, one that might allow me to see Hoover as time went on. Unfortunately, he did not adjust. He stopped eating and drinking water, and after four days my friend and her husband located him behind some bales of hay, no doubt preparing to die. And he was full-blown violent. They managed to get him into a little cage and then called me to discuss our steps the following morning: he would need to be euthanized and as his owner , I would have to authorize it. (I should also mention my friend had been a long time cat and dog groomer and she said from day one, Hoover did not seem to be processing thoughts as a normal cat would.) Luckily, my vet was in that Saturday morning. She knew the aggression was a constant concern of mine, though he never showed any aggression to her or her staff. My friend told me not to go in... the vet was able to get my permission over the phone. I had some immediate relief emotionally - Hoover couldn’t hurt anyone else, nor would I worry about him.   A few days later, I created a carefully worded post about Hoover. Two people did not understand and sent me some hateful words in private messages. One was Hoover’s foster mom who had bottle fed him from the age of 2-3 days old. My heart was breaking over the loss of what we could have had together, and her words meant to wound found their mark. I have never cried as hard or as often as I did the past few months (since October 19.) Anyway, I want to thank you so much for sharing your story! Many of my friends and family feel I dodged a future traumatic event of the type that happened to you. Hoover was a much loved, clever cat, but something had to have been wrong with his brain. Please know  I understand, I empathize, and I am looking forward to the time I will only remember the positive side of our life together. I have so many photos and videos of him. (By the way, the day I gave him up, as he was well behaved for about an hour when I awoke, I showered him with love and kisses while he dozed curled up by my side. So I was able to say goodbye’, and thankfully, my friend and my vet protected me from seeing Hoover in the state he was in at the end. ) God bless you for sharing, not just the first year, but additional years. and easing those of us who are in the early stages. Your thoughts help ease our loss of similar pets and the grief (and guilt.) Your experience gives me hope and helps me cope!

January 12, 2020

Thank you for this article and all of the comments. We have a 6 year old coonhound that has become more aggressive towards our other dog and us. Both my husband and I have been bit. He has nipped a friend and my mom when she has watched him. Recently he bit me when he was laying with me on the couch and I moved the blanket to cover my feet. One night around Christmas, he bit my husband when he was sitting next to him petting him on the couch like he does every day. Yesterday as he was wiping his muddy feet, he bit him on the cheek. Luckily he didn’t need stitches but has a horrible wound and will have a horrible scar. He is on Prozac and we have worked with a behaviorist. I am worried to find him a new home. I would hate myself if he hurt someone else. There aren’t specific triggers which is frustrating. I feel like euthanizing him is the only answer. I can’t live in fear of my dog every day and can’t risk him hurting us or anyone else. My heart is breaking because he can be a good dog.

January 2, 2020

Thanks so much for this article! My pit bull/jack russel mix has always had what I refer to as an “attitude problem” or “small man syndrome”. He’s always been a barking and licking at the same time type which to me wasn’t real aggression. Sure he’s grabbed a few pant legs over the years but it’s never broken skin and the people were invading his territory without permission from us...  Now that he’s older he’s progressively gotten more crotchety and less tolerant, snapping at children and actually biting a couple of my employees, not seriously injuring them but I can’t deny that it’s aggression as he knows these people and sees them several times a week. Today he bit my toddler in the face unprovoked, barely breaking the skin but completely without warning. Your article really helps in understanding the options when a beloved family pet becomes aggressive or escalates to a degree where euthanasia is considered.

Teri Ann Oursler, DVM
December 31, 2019

Shreya, What a loving tribute to Aristotle. I am so very glad that both of you are now at peace.

December 31, 2019

I just euthanized my 1.5 year old GSD yesterday. Aristotle was such a goofy, loveable dog. If you saw him on a good day, he would do things that could make even the bleakest of days bright. But as much as I want to only focus on his good, I couldn’t deny the bad. He had bitten 6 people, me included. He bit me over the eye, and 2 of my friends in the face with no explanation. All 3 of these situations required multiple stitches. I went to the vet, went to obedience classes, did everything I could but it wasn’t enough. It really hit me when I was visiting my family over the holidays and he attacked both my brothers. Neither was near him, they were actually walking away or had their back to him. I knew that no matter what I did, or so badly wanted to do, my dog would never be able to be a normal dog. What kind of life would I force him to live if he was constantly being triggered by the world. What kind of life would I force Aristotle to live if he felt he needed to be on the offensive 99% of the time. I will never forget how much I loved him, how much he made me feel safe walking into the world that has hurt me before, how much he challenged me to be the best first time dog owner I could be. I will never forget his hatred for lettuce, or his need to put 3 of his toys in his mouth, or his love for mud. Aristotle was a good dog, he was doing the best he could with the hand he was dealt. Unfortunately, that hand meant a life of constant fear, anxiety, and aggression. He had an imbalance in his brain. If I can believe humans can be mentally ill, why not a dog too. I loved Aristotle and would have done everything and anything for him. And in that love, it also meant letting him go free from the constant stress he was under. Nothing will ever take away the love I have for him. No decision like this will undermine that. All I hope is that he knows that I made this decision out of love.

Michelle Cory
December 16, 2019

Scott,How dare you Judge,  dont ever judge until you've been in their shoes.

December 15, 2019

I have had many aggressive dogs dumped on me, I dont have luxury of it not working out.It always works out,I make it work out, never kill a dog

November 22, 2019

I'm dealing with this agonizing decision right now.  I've had Howard for almost 11 years.  I rescued him from a group that I feel lied to me about his past.  Their last comment to me when I brought Howard home was, "Good luck with that one."  Ever since, I've tried countless training methods, medications, and round the clock monitoring to keep my family safe.  His aggression is typically only directed towards my partner.  He has bitten her numerous times.  I struggle with making the decision to euthanize him because I feel like my partner has done nothing to help work with him.  I understand she is afraid of the dog.  But he shows great progress when you work with him.  I can't shake the feeling that I'm killing my dog.  I feel responsible for his behavior even though I believe it was present before I got him.  I feel responsible because I couldn't change it.  Because I have let my entire family down.  He still greets me daily with a toy and a belly rub invitation.  He still sleeps on my lap under his binkey every night while we watch TV.   This is killing me.  I know it's for the best.  He has to be suffering as much as my family is.  I can't even muster the strength to make the call to the vet.  Reading your comments has helped. My heart is breaking.

Mary I
November 19, 2019

Im going through this right now.  We have been living with it for 6.5 years and can no longer cope.  We love him so much but we need our lives back.  We have been on egg shells for years, he is aggressive to us and to other dogs and people.  I think the final straw came when my parents were visiting from overseas.  They knew our problem and love dogs and animals as much as us so understood the "rules" of how to be around him.  He took a couple days of being separated and slowly he got used to them and was even happy to see them in the mornings when we woke, like he does with us (but he turns on us so that doesn't mean much).  It was fine for a week or so, and then one day my mother walked by him while he was playing with a toy, I caught him in the beginning stage and realized he was not happy.  I tried to call him gently and told her to back off, however as he started to come towards me she moved a step closer and he lunged at her.  The worst lunge I've ever seen him do, I feel he was trying to get to her face, he bit her hand and it was a fake bite, no puncture.  It was horrible, and she nor he settled again after that for the last few days they were there.  It was the final straw.  We need to have our friends and family to be able to come over and need to not worry every minute we are out on a walk.  we are tired and just cant cope.  We paid for thousands in training, meds, toys, leashes, collars, muzzles... everything we could think of.   There is nothing more we can do.  But how does one decide the date to put down their dog.  To spend its last week or day and know this physically healthy boy will die tomorrow bc of a decision I have to make.  Thats what we are struggling with.  I would not wish this on my worst enemy.  The conflict inside is too much.  Its mental Illness and those that judge have never been in this situation, I don't understand why its hard for people to believe a dog is mentally not well.  They have all the same ailments as us, cancer, pneumonia, eye infections, weight issues, food presences, allergies... literally everything.  Why would it be hard to believe a dog is mentally unwell?  .

November 17, 2019

I had to euthanize my gypsy Thursday. Had attached my cat with my other two dogs 3 years ago and then went after my older dog last year. She had him my the ear and would not let go. I got them apart but he needed surgery. I rationalized keeping her alive because I think she thought she was she was protecting me. She was my shadow! My sleep mate and my confidant. She licked my tears after my brother was killed and listened to me scream and cry. She would not let my husband get near me because she would growl. But I loved her and she was my heart. Thursday she bit my old dog again because he was coming toward me quickly. My husband had to pry her mouth open to get her off of him. My parents know how much I love her and said they would take her but I made the choice to say goodbye to her. I have to. For my old dogs sake and for my household. I know I should have done it sooner but I couldn’t. I have guilt because my old dog is in pain again. But when I brought him home from the vet he locked my face which he never does. I think he is grateful and thankful that he now has a safe environment. I feel like a piece of crap and I feel like murderer. I hope she understands why I did it someday and will forgive me.

November 13, 2019

I so needed to read this today.  We are making that gut-wrenching decision after consulting with our vet and working with a behaviorist at a local university.  Our fur baby has fear aggression and while medication has helped, he still bit our teenage son a couple of days ago.  This is not the first bite. We are heartbroken but the behaviorist shared with us some comforting thoughts of how terrible it must be for our fur baby to live in so much fear all of the time.  Your story touched me.  It will provide comfort to me on Friday morning.  Feeling heartbroken but knowing there is no other choice.  Thank you.

Caron Sanson
November 12, 2019

I am facing this decision right now.  Reading this article and all the comments have helped.  My almost 3yo, 85lb mixed breed girl is getting scary.  We recused her sister at 8 weeks, and Maree 2 years ago, at 10 months.  She had been returned to the shelter the pups were rescued from.  Maree immediately became "mine"!  She has gotten more and more protective of me.  About 6 months ago, she attached our 12yo husky but my husband pulled them apart before anything happened.  Two weeks ago, Maree attacked again, and this time, tried to kill the husky and my husband was severely bitten and was out of work for a week.  Maree has a torn ACL that we cannot afford to have repaired.  She is also a very anxious dog.  Last night, she lunged me as I was getting into bed and caught my face, but didn't leave any marks. Then she cuddled up next to me and went to sleep.  I can't re-home her.  So I am going to call the vet in a few minutes and get an appointment for tomorrow evening and have her euthanized.  My heart is breaking.

November 9, 2019

My husband and I rescued a pocket pitbull three weeks ago who was left to die out on the plains of Las Animas County Colorado after the feds conducted a series of drug raids in the valley where our Cattle Ranch is. Five weeks later we were out checking our fences, and this emaciated dog came out from under a tree, and my husband knelt down, and the dog gave him a hug. We loaded him up onto the 4 wheeler, and we brought him home. He was severely underweight. We nursed him back to health. He has been gaining weight, and very talkative. He is very attached to my husband and thay was allright until two days ago.. "Romeo" spends most of his time with me, I have been working with him, and teaching him new that hes leveling out, his behavior has changed. We were getting ready for bed, and .y husband turned out the light, and Romeo jumped up onto the bed, and he planted himself right on my side, I told him to get down,  he refused to move, so I repeated myself, he grunted at me, as soon as I placed my hand on his back to tap him to get down, he lunged at me grabbing me by my face, an he went crazy! Leaving me with three puncture wounds and a 1 inch deep gash on my face, he barely missed my eye. He spent the night in the bathroom. The next day, he was fine. I chocked it up to me not approaching him correctly, so I blamed I worked with him for two days, things seemed fine. Well last night we were in bed,and something startled Romeo, and he started barking and hiding. So we turned on the light and he was looking up at us, my husband thought that maybe I should give him some water, and so I did just that, I bent down to oet him, and he attacked me. He bit my right breast, I screamed and turned away from him he proceeded to attacked me viciously and he bit my right thighs really bad leaving me with deep puncture wounds . So now I have BITES wounds on my face and my leg..he has been surrendered to the animal care and control..he is a beautiful dog, but like the Animal care and control officer said. We have NO idea how the dog was treated before he ended up where he did. Some times you can fix broken. I love that dog, and I am SOO heartbroken over this nightmare experience.  I am not afraid of pitbulls, I get it. People will buy them to train them to become vicious and I feel that's what occured in his case..

Phyllis DeGioia
November, 2019

Misty, What an unbelievably horrible experience! This is absolutely unconscionable of the owners. I trust that by this time you have received medical care and have contacted animal control. Have you spoken with the owners yet? This situation is clearly dangerous with no adult supervision (and likely even with it), and I trust you will not go near that front door again; the child can walk alone to the door. I'm so grateful your sister in law was there and prevented your child from getting out of the van, and opened your door for you. This is not a lawsuit waiting to happen, but one that just happened. You could have been severely injured or even killed if not for your sister in law. I am so upset for you, and I'm freaked out just hearing about it. Please report it if you have not done so already because otherwise it could happen to someone else. You feel victimized and vulnerable because you are a victim of something that should never have happened. I'm asking our veterinarian/masters in counseling Dr. Michele Gaspar to write you and to talk about emotional reactions that stem from this kind of event. She may discuss what to do for your children. What she says helps people. Do what you need to take care of yourself and your children. My heart is totally with you. Please let us know the outcome of all this.

November 2, 2019

Thank you for the article. Fortunately I have not had a dog with aggression issues but I see plenty of dogs that do, including in my extended family. I currently have 3 dogs and am involved in competition obedience trials. I see people getting breeds of dogs that they do not have the skills to manage. Their choice of dog is often not based on their lifestyle or what they have the ability manage but is based on what I’m not sure. I see people proudly saying that they have a “rescue” dog. I and my dog sport friends  carefully select our dogs which are purchased from breeders as puppies. We research our breeds and breeders. Our breeders do health testing on their breeding dogs so that the puppies have the best chance for a healthy life. The puppies are carefully raised and temperament tested so that you have an idea of what your dog will be like as an adult. The breeders also screen potential purchasers and often ask for references. There are guarantees for certain types of health problems.  The breeders will also be available to offer help and will take the dog back if the person can no longer care for their dog. Of course there are no guarantees in life but for me there are advantages to buying a purebred dog from a reputable breeder. I wholeheartedly agree with you statement that some dogs are too damaged or hard wired wrong and that safety is of paramount importance. Euthanasia is the only safe option in some cases and although it is heart wrenching it is the best choice. Thank you for sharing.

Misty McColgan
November 2, 2019

Thank you for your honesty. I was attacked by a neighbor's dog yesterday. I have been driving their son to and from school and yesterday, after walking him to the door, I started to turn to go, when the door reopened and a dog came running out. He was big, a German Shepherd Mix of some kind and he instantly lunged at my face. I turned my body to the side and said "no". At which point, he attacked me. My kids (10 and 9 years old) were sitting in the van watching it. My 10 year old tried to get out of the van to help, but thankfully, my sister in law was with us and stopped him. After the second bite, I started screaming. The kids that live in the house with the dog (they have many, many children) could not control the dog. Someone would grab his collar and I would get only a few steps toward my van before he was on me again. He was lunging up my back to get at my neck. All I could do was tuck my head in and use my arms to protect myself. In the end, my sister in law opened the driver's door, and I was finally, thankfully close enough by then to lunge inside. In all that time, an adult never came out of the house to investigate the screaming. Only children were "managing" this dangerous, aggressive dog. I have never been more terrified in my life. I have several crushing type bite wounds, my muscles are sore, my throat hurts, and I can't sleep. I can't stop reliving it. My kids are completely wrecked. To all of this I say, that re-homing this animal would be criminal. This was a completely unprovoked attack from a dog that lives in a house with kids, one of which is a toddler. Your words and the comments bring me a bit of comfort and helped me to feel connected in the middle of the night when I feel victimized and vulnerable.

Phyllis DeGioia
October 24, 2019

Mary, I understand the struggle. Keep reading whatever you can find, but please read the comments here. As for "what gives us the right to take away life," understand that euthanasia is a gift, not a punishment. Dogs who bite repeatedly are not happy dogs, and are generally living under a cloud of fear and anxiety. As with people, feelings of fear and anxiety tend to increase with age, making the dog more fearful and anxious than ever as time goes by. Also, consider the attitude of someone who gets bitten by a dog that has a history of biting: "What gives them the right to keep subjecting innocent people to an aggressive dog?" I find it helpful to think about the other side of the issue from someone else's perspective. Have you tried medication? I wish you peace as you work your way through whatever is best for your family. My heart is with you.

Mary L
October 22, 2019

I have been reading lots of articles recently trying to find answers about what the right decision is regarding my dog. I have an 8 year old Miniature Daschund who we bought from a pet shop when she was 12 weeks old, we later found out that she was illegally imported from Slovakia and she was taken away to be quarantined for 3 weeks after only living with us for 2 weeks. While mostly, in her comfortable zone, she is a sweet loving and affectionate animal, She has, throughout her entire life to date, exhibited aggressive behaviour across all categories. She guards her possessions and is agressive towards people and dogs. The only people she tolerates are her close family (the people she lives with) and still even shows unprovoked aggressive behaviour towards us. We have managed it for such a long time, always giving her the benefit of the doubt. However, we are unable to have guests round or take her to public places without it becoming stressful. My family find it too stressful to walk her so i do it when I can (I moved out 3 years ago but am still the most confident with her). We have had incidents where she has bitten me on the face, drawing blood and on the foot. She has also bitten my younger sister on the face. She has attempted to bite guests at the house but as we recognise her signs, fortunately we have always managed to remove her from the situation before it has escalated further. However, we don't get many visitors anymore due to this. My family have sought advice from trainers but her obedience is not the issue as she has been to classes and can walk with other dogs as long as they keep their distance. My family and I are struggling to know what to do next as we feel, with her age, she is getting worse as will now no longer let my grandmother into the house. My grandmother used to look after her all the time and they had a good bond. The main internal struggle I'm facing is 'what gives us the right to make the decision to put our beloved family dog down' and do we just continue to 'get by' until she is taken from us naturally. i fear that i would never recover from the guilt. I'm sorry for the long story but i suppose i am just seeking support  and comfort from the knowledge that there are other people in situations like mine and my family'. Your guidance would be much appreciated.

October 18, 2019

@Carol We took our dog to the shelter because of severe allergies and we were moving. She was a husky malamute who was just so timid and not aggressive. They euthanized her within a day because they said she was a risk of aggression from fear. It just broke our hearts. We knew she would shy away from strangers, but she didn't even get a chance to be adopted. We made such a bad decision taking her in and thinking she would be adopted. She was so quiet, rarely barked and just did this funny howl to let us know she loved us or was happy. She was shy and one of the most beautiful dogs I have ever seen. She would have been happy to sit at our feet all day and occasionally rest her head on our knee. Why wouldn't someone want to adopt her? She just needed a chance for someone to know her. We feel so awful.

Phyllis DeGioia
October 14, 2019

Michael, If you're afraid of him, consider how others feel about him. I understand your family loves him, and with good cause - he's not like this all the time. But he has clearly gotten worse, and his aggression is escalating. Your being in the hospital for over a week is more than significant, and I'm sorry you were so grievously injured, and I'm sorry that you will have physical and emotional scars. Have you had a good sit down talk with your veterinarian? Personally, this is a dog I could not live with, nor could I send him anywhere else. You must be comfortable with any decision you make. I wish you luck and please know that my heart is with you.

Michael SC
October 13, 2019

Great article, thank you.  Over the years my 8ytr old boxer has shown aggressive behavior towards my 20 y/o son and myself.  A week ago he got caught in our overhead garage door. Not very tragic, just needed assistance.  While trying to unfree him he bit my face and tricep, but I continued to free him.  Once free he viciously attacked me putting me in the hospital over a week.  Still on meds, but recovering.  Tonite, I was closing a door about 5 ft from my dog and he ran towards me growling and nipped at my leg.  I now feel like I will forever live in fear in my own home.  I’m not sure what to do, but I am unwilling to be hospitalized again, or even worse, see someone else go through what I have.  It is not an easy choice, the family loves him, but I feel he WILL do this again. Ideas.

October 3, 2019

I am devastated by my decision to euthanize my alaskan malamute two days ago. I fear I will never get over it. I am panicked that I made the wrong decision.  It is as if my mind is playing tricks on me and I am now questioning every competent person who told me she should be put to sleep. Reading about your experience was powerful.  I hope that one day this pain will end and I can feel that I did the right thing. 

September 24, 2019

Thank you so much for this heartfelt and detailed synopsis of the thoughts, worries, guilt, sorrow, and fear that any dog lover an aggressive dog knows. Just a few days ago we chose to euthanize our beloved Spock. We have a six year old and a three year old (human babies), but Spock was our first baby.  He was nipping from the start, but never breaking skin...he was a jerker/rat terrier mix, so that should have been a warning sight from the get go, but he was alone, found on the streets and we got him from a rescue...I grew up with dogs and always wanted my own as an adult but couldn’t for so long because of my job....when the opportunity came, I felt I had to rescue this abandoned thing. He was just one at the time so I thought we had time to work on him...And, 99% of the time, he was cuddly and sweet, but always scared around strangers.  He nipped everyone new in the house and we laughed it off as a right of passage, since it was never serious.  But, he got older, our kids got older, and started making neighborhood friends and bringing them around. He bit an adult neighbor and for the first time, broke skin and came back at her for another bite.  Still, we tried to control the situation. We had also paid for extensive training before that and given him plenty of exercise. For over a year we stressed over making sure he was kenneled with guests, especially kids...I got exercise letting him out, going upstairs, then running back down frantic at the sound of him barking furociously, usually to find it was just a squirrel teasing him in a tree, but nonetheless, we are in a neighborhood full of kids who come and go from each other’s yards.  We realized it was not the right place for him. We tried rescues, the humane society, and all sorts of things for re-homing him.  Nobody’s actually wanted him or could say they would take him without knowing if they would put him down.  So screw all those supposed animal lovers that guilt people and shame loving dog owners.they weren’t willing to take him either without saying that if he couldn’t find a home he would be the end, they all failed us. If he had to die we wanted it to be in our arms, not in a cage with strangers.  We even paid lots of money for a vet bill to gave his teeth cleaned just a month or so before we made the decision, in the hopes it would just be one less thing for a potential adopter to worry about because it needed to be done. On that visit, he bit the vet, out of nowhere and extremely unpredictably. The vet, a very good one, was surprised as he was experienced, and used to aggressive behavior. He didn’t guilt or shame us but said we might gave to consider all options, because the bite was strong enough to really hurt a child.  For months we agonized and kept trying to find an alternative, but nothing came through, all this while our neighbors could still see a dog that bit her in the yard next to hers.  We were having to kennel him so much that we felt like it was not fair to him, nor was it fair to our kids and other kids in the area....we made the call to euthanize...I am heartbroken and still crying all the time, and hoping to God he felt no pain. We got him as happy as we could with a good hike in the woods and a steak to himself...Still, he was not a beast...Most of the time he wanted to be cuddled and pet like a cat...That said, thank you again for posting something that helps me believe we made the right decision. 

September 18, 2019

Wow, seriously thank you for this. I have a 3 year old blond lab, that we adopted as a pup from a bad situation. I have slowly seen him over the past year turn into something totally different than what he used to be. He started out with just some light resource guarding, we took him through training to try and fix that and it didn't work. It is now to the point where we can't have any "high value" items accessible or he will attack. What you said about walking on egg shells, or feeling trapped, me and my wife have felt that way for a long time. I feel like I can't even move on the couch if he is laying down at my feet for fear that he will bite. I made the decision a few months ago that it was time, but my wife felt that we could still do more to help. We took him through more training and still didn't any real results. A few nights ago my dog had gotten up in my wife's face, which he normally does to lick or greet, it's common for him to do and normally she just takes it and then pushes him away. When she pushed him away the other night he snapped and gnarled at her and literally looked like he was about to pounce, I feel like he would have if I wasn't there to grab. He immediately calmed down and went back to the pup we know and love. This was the straw that broke the camels back. At that point we were both came together in the decision to put him down. We haven't had company in a year, we can't take him out, the last time he almost attached a dog that was being walked by a kid. We have felt trapped, we also have another dog who is great, that gets the brunt of most of this bad behavior. I am the one taking him to our vet in a few days to get him put down, this article has helped me with this. I was emotional today and had almost made the decision to cancel but all of what you said is so valid and so true. Thank you for not letting me think that I am a horrible human being for doing this. I honestly do fear for my wife and our other dog, I also fear for others than have come into our home. I literally couldn't live with myself if I allowed this dog to hurt one of them. Thank you again for the article, thank you for your honesty. It has helped me immensely in making this decision and I know that I am doing the right thing. I love my dog, and have a lot of great memories but that doesn't mean I can put others in danger. Thank you again.

September 11, 2019

There are so many parts of this article that are exact things I have thought or said out loud.  I have a 9 year old black and tan Coonhound mix.  I fostered him for a year after he was relinquished after biting someone.  I don't know why I thought it was a good idea for me to volunteer to take him given the situation, but I was in a "try to help every dog I can" frame of mind.  He's actually quite a lovebug...most of the time.  He is extremely snuggly and playful and sweet.  However, I learned early on that I can't take him for walks because he lunges at strangers.  I think he is protective of me.  And he is extremely fear-reactive with the vet.  I have to muzzle him and all the while I'm incredibly anxious, wondering what will happen if the muzzle slips off and he bites someone?  I couldn't live with myself if he hurt anyone.  I stopped having people over.  I lock him in a bedroom if I have to have someone in the house to do repairs.  It made dating difficult because he's especially wary of men.  I told myself I could keep him safe, and others safe from him.  I had a 6 foot privacy fence installed.  Now I have a vet come to the house to help decrease his anxiety/reactivity.  Even muzzled, all they were able to do during the last visit was give him 2-3 vaccination shots...then they didn't want to push it because he was already getting difficult.  He was muzzled, of course but I was still in the other room freaking out.  I decided I would just do the bare necessities as far as vet care: get him vaccinated, keep him pain free.  I couldn't risk doing any surgeries or visits to an actual vet clinic because his anxiety/aggression went through the roof.  So it finally happened-due to his floppy ears he is prone to ear infections (although I had just cleaned them a week before) and was shaking his head a lot.  He developed an aural hematoma, which is when the excessive head shaking causes trauma to the ear.  I think blood vessels break within the ear and a pool of blood develops between the ear tissue, causing the ear to look like it was inflated with air.  He is clearly uncomfortable.  The home visit vet said she could come and drain it but it would likely take several visits and he may ultimately need surgery anyway.  I was anxious about one vet visit let alone several, and surgery would be a nightmare.  I was deliberating on what to do.  I asked God for a sign.  The next morning, I saw a small tumor he had on his side had burst and was an open sore.  I took this to mean that it was "time."  I called the vet back and changed his appointment to a euthanasia appointment.  I feel awful but a bit relieved.  I have a bit over 5 days left with him, and I plan to spoil him rotten.  I'm thankful to have the luxury of knowing these are our last days together.  I've been having a lot of guilt and second thoughts but overall I think this is the right thing.  Doesn't mean I like it.  But I  wholeheartedly believe he will be going to a place of peace and love and be reunited with his since passed doggy sisters and brother.  Thank you for everyone who has shared their experience.  It has helped me to read that I'm not the only one going through such a heart wrenching decision.  It has been quite cathartic to write this....sorry so wordy.  Much love to everyone going through such a hard experience.

September 11, 2019

Thank you so much for this article.  I had to put my 8-year-old rescue German Shepherd/Boxer mix down two weeks ago after he viciously attacked my partner.  The attack was completely unprovoked. My partner simply entered the room I was sleeping in.  She has 15 stitches in her hand and several in her thigh.  We are so lucky it wasn't worse; she could've been killed.  We are devastated.  We'd had our boy for almost one full year.  He had a history of abuse and began with aggressive outbursts toward our cat and my mother's small dog early in the adoption.  We walked on eggshells, keeping the animals separated, keeping the TV volume down, not having visitors, using calming collars, supplementing with tryptophan, etc.  He never showed any signs of aggression toward people until two weeks ago, when the attack occurred.  The situation simply became intractable, likely much earlier than we realized, and we felt euthanasia was the only option.  There is peace in my home.  There is relief that this won't ever happen again.  That he will not attack my aging mother, or me, a person living with multiple sclerosis.  But there is the most searing, crushing, indescribable grief.  I feel like I'll never be whole again.  I did everything I knew to do.  Gave him love and affection, gained his trust, bonded with him, nursed him back to good health, gave him exercise and good food, all the things that we know make for a good quality of life.  But some things just cannot be fixed, no matter how much we wish they could be.  Thank you so much for sharing your experience.  You've given me hope that one day I can think of my boy without weeping, that I can forgive myself for what I had to do to keep my family safe.  Love and Light to you.

September 6, 2019

Yesterday I put down my best boy. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. He was a mixed breed with giant perked up ears. He was 1 1/2 years old. All he wanted to do was please me. Everyday the most obedient dog. Willing to work and learn and adventure and love. And protect. He loved 6 people in the world. We got him from a foster rescue when he was 4 months old, although looking at the original shelter information he was actually 7 months old. I don’t know why they lied. They also said they thought he was a Great Dane. He was a pit bull Akita mix. I don’t care really except lies don’t help. I’ve lied about my dog too. About a month after we got him back t was like he locked on to us and no longer wanted anyone to even come close. I thought I was supposed to socialize him. I walked him everywhere I could. He was beautiful and he attracted a lot of attention that he did not want. It was almost as if “your dog is so beautiful” was a trigger for him to lunge and bark. I worked and worked. Practiced look at that thing click, give treat, for months and months. I think that just rewarded a sort of tracking stalking that was weird to me, but later I found out was a huge red flag. BECAUSE although I love dogs this is my first puppy and have only owned one other dog -my other dog, for three years. I read books worked with a trainer and thought he was getting better because he didn’t lunge and bark at everyone. Then he jumped our 5 ft fence and hit someone 4 times and wasnt going to stop, circling him, he bit me twice pulling him off. He was “nice” and didn’t report it. That let me live in denial. I doubled down on training. Obsessively trying everything. Prozac. More training. He needs more exercise, more exposure. I saw him improve. He was tethered to my body almost all summer. My neighbor across the street opened the door and came in to give me a book. He went for her. He was an inch from going for her face. He would have killed her, I have no doubt. It took all my strength and body weight to stop him. I knew right then , no one outside was safe from him. My beautiful boy was so funny and playful and loving. Roll on his back for tummy rubs. Today was the first day he didn’t wake me up by licking my hand and face, his tail wagging madly. He slept with my kids and played with them. No one but me and my family could see that, but he was amazing. He wanted nothing more than to adventure with us forever. I held him in my lap while he died. Trusting me to the end. My kids are devastated. I am too.

August 30, 2019

Two days ago, I put down my 11yo old, black English Cocker Spaniel Koks. He was displaying aggressive behaviour at a very young age already but both my wife and I were inexperienced handlers and I blamed myself for most of the incidents. That was a fair assessment in a way – we were short-tempered and aggressive towards him too, on some days he did not get enough exercise nor attention, he never socialized at a puppy school. Very early on, my then girlfriend, now wife, started having problems accepting the dog in our apartment because she simply could not cope with his needs but I refused to do anything about it and scoffed her off. This created tension in our relationship that lasted throughout my dog’s 11 years with us. On an emotional level we did take each other hostage – she was acting out on every little thing the dog did that she did not like, and I was convinced she lacks empathy and was simply trying to get me to hate my pup. Meanwhile our dog would bite someone every 9-12 months. The harm he inflicted would get worse each time and the neurological pathway widened. He started getting into fights with other dogs and displaying severe aggression towards strangers while waiting for me in front of the post-office or grocery store. He bit my mother when she tried to pet him. He struck my wife on the forehead when she wanted to get close to us while we were chilling on the couch. He killed a rodent in my in-laws back yard with no hesitation. He bit my foot while protecting his space from other dogs under the dining table. He was resource guarding, territorial, very anxious but at the same time also showed dominant traits. I still would not consider euthanasia. Fast forward to 2018, Koks is an elderly, blind dog with mild heart issues. His quality of life is declining rapidly as he cannot enjoy most of the activities we all loved in the past. Living with a sick pet makes us even more frustrated, then the worst happens – the dog bites my wife in the face for no apparent reason, she simply leaned over to pet him before going to bed. I acknowledge he was half-asleep but his reaction was completely disproposional. He bit down hard clamping his jaws and shaking his head, we ended up in the ER. The consequence? No stiches needed hence no need for euthanasia. Duh. Never mind stiches were not an option, as there was risk of infection. January 2019 my baby-girl was born. Two weeks in, I inadvertently stepped on Koks while he was laying in the middle of the living room. He bit down on my toes hard and if not for having slippers on, I think he would have broken some bones. Poor dog, stupid me – I thought. I really should be paying more attention! Only when my 7mo girl started crawling around that I realized my whole life revolved around the dog that I could not trust anymore. My hair would stand on ends whenever she started moving towards the area where he was isolated for the better part of the day. We called a behaviourist to have the situation assessed before making any final decisions and what I heard is what you would expect. The dog is dangerous and you can either isolate him in a separate room bearing in mind your full responsibility for keeping him locked away or euthanasia. He was too sickly and old to be rehomed. Hindsight is 20/20. I now understand that I got the dog for the wrong reasons and I kept him for the wrong reasons too. One thing I am quite sure of is that I put him down for the right reasons, as the safety of my child is paramount. I am quite sure the guilt I am experiencing now is not because of euthanasia and I am taking stock of all the lessons learned. I understand much better, what a dog is and what a dog needs. Misplaced ill love is what makes everyone involved miserable, including the pet. I had to wait until my offspring came into this world to take a long hard look at my actions and take ownership and responsibility for the perfect storm I had brought upon my family. If anyone is struggling with the decision of rehoming or euthanizing a dog you know deep down lost your trust – please listen to what you gut is telling you and take concrete action. The guilt, the marital strife, the injuries, the time lost, the feelings invested, the contingency plans and resources put in – none of that will prevent the grief that inevitably comes after a heart-breaking end. I love you Koks. Until we meet again.

August 29, 2019

I'm not sure what the right word is here. I'm not so much glad I read this as relieved a bit. Today I was at the vet with my two dogs. The 7 year old male GSD mix that I love intensely was worse than I've ever seen him. Had he not been muzzled he would have attached the vet wit his teeth. A month ago he snapped at a friend of mine who had gently cared for him while were out of town. This is the first time I looked at him with fear (not for myself), but for what he could do to someone else. He's snapped at one of my children and one of my kids' friends as well. He has never bitten anyone. But I'm now starting to come to terms with the fact that that may be a matter of time. I have a pit in my stomach writing this, but if/when I have to make the hard decision to do something, it will be a small comfort that I have read about your experience and know that I'm not the only one. I love this dog so fiercely and intensely, it wrenches my gut to even thing about what the future might bring. I don't see him going into middle age peacefully. :(

August 27, 2019

I am so glad I saw your article. My 22 year old daughter was attacked while visiting a friend on Saturday. Luckily a plastic surgeon was able to reattach her nose. We are not out of the woods yet, but if there is any solice, it is that it occurred in Ohio. We live in Michigan where it feels like the dog has more rights than its victims. I know this because my grandson was attacked last summer and the dogs owner was allowed to take it across county lines and hide it. It had bitten before and is is still out there. I think we have gone so far over the edge and have forgotten that these are animals. They do not have more value than humans. I have had some wonderful pets, but would not hesitate for a second to put them down if they seemed dangerous. We need to think about the overall safety of our families and neighbors. It is not fair to put their lives at risk because we feel bad for our pets. By the way, both dogs that bit my daughter and grandson were rescues. Maybe that is the problem in a nut shell.

August 25, 2019

Thank you for leaving this website up. Reading through the comments and your article has helped me a lot.  Not many people can relate to that feeling of having a dog with these types of issues.  Its nice to read and reflect on others' similar experiences.

August 24, 2019

I got a 10 week old purebred golden cocker spaniel who so sweetly licked my face when I held him. He was as precious looking a puppy as you could imagine. I always take a new pet to the vet for a health check up and vaccinations. I took Remus a few days after I got him. Everything seemed fine, but the vet said, Remus had growled at him when he gave him his shot. I quickly forgot that. Later after we had been home for a while I tried to pick Remus up and he attacked me biting my arm. Later I thought maybe I touched him where he had gotten his shot. Whatever the case, after that he began to growl and snap and even bite me if I attempted tp interact with him. We’re talking 10 to 11 weeks old here. He began to draw blood so I called the breeder who refused to take him back but told me under not to allow him th bite me or it would become a habit. I bought him a muzzle. He shut down and just lay there. I took him for a behavioral evaluation. The dog trainer said he was one of the worst cases she had ever experienced. She said she could work with him but he might never be non aggressive. She suggested talking to the vet for a recommendation. I talked to two. They both told me to consider euthanizing him. I’ve was barely 12 weeks old and sometimes would snuggle in my lap and sleep. I took him to the trainer and then we went to puppy classes with her. He was very smart and obedient. But at home I never felt at ease with him. He would growl if a child came to the door. He attacked my senior dachshund rescue who had dealt with plenty in his 14 years. Remus would stand across the room from me and look strangely at me and sometimes snarl. Finally I met a woman who ran a rescue. She accepted aggressive dogs as long as they were not routinely biting people. Remus was now 6 months old and had not bitten since we worked with the trainer. Remus went to the rescue. He worked with their trainer and was eventually adopted by a cocker spaniel trainer. I felt I had failed. And people criticized me for giving such a young dog to a rescue. I felt both shame and anger. They could not believe such a beautiful puppy was aggressive. Only a few people other than myself saw him attack and bite. They were stunned. Eventually I got my cocker spaniel, an older puppy whose sweet nature inspired his name Trusty. He is old now and always with me.

Phyllis DeGioia
August 20, 2019

AC, our hearts will be with you as you take him in Friday. I know howheart-wrenching it feels - Dodger also slept on my bed. He kissed my face frequently. Please remember it is not your Golden Shepherd's fault; he can't help it. Three and a half years is a long time together, enough to sear your soul. I understand. I ask that you and your wife take care of yourselves and be kind to yourselves afterwards. It makes a difference in how well and quickly your grief heals. It takes a long time no matter what, but not beating yourself up for a valid decision makes a big difference.

August 21, 2019

Friday my wife and I are taking our 3.5-year-old Golden Shepherd to be put down. It has been a heart wrenching decision, and I will miss him so very much, but we know it is the right decision.  Like others have posted here, we cannot take the risk he now poses to our family or others. He is still himself most of the time, but he loses control, and it has been becoming more frequent.  I have to take him on walks very early in the morning or late at night to avoid other dogs and people. While I know this is the right choice for him and us, it is still heartbreaking. I am going to miss my buddy more than I can say.  He is the first dog that has been mine. We raised him from 3 months old, and he sleeps on our bed. He has been my buddy through job loss, illness, and all the good days and the bad.  We will love him always, and I pray that he finds peace.

August 18, 2019

My heart goes out to all of you who are considering this or have already experienced this. I rescued two loves, one was 6 months old and bit me the night I rescued him and another in the face. I kept him until this past July. For years I worked with several trainers, thousands for surgery in potential cancers and congenital defects that may have been causing him pain and fear aggression. His happiness was difficult to achieve. It seemed he was happy when het his way but mean when he didn’t. He bit my family in the face before age 4. By age 5, with two trainers who said he would be fine already under our belts, he bit a stranger in the face who needed stitches. He also bit another family member. A year later, I went to the ER with an eyeball that had nearly been popped. I still didn’t consider euthanasia. I tried antidepressants and new trainer. I then rescued a second dog so he could have a friend. I trained both together simultaneously. The second rescue I got ended up protecting me from my first dog on several occasions. I didn’t realize how aggressive he was toward me, nor did I realize how lucky I was to be alive. The good always seemed to outweigh the bad, Unfortunately, the second rescue dog I got was part boxer/German Shepherd. She had been lied about and had a history of aggression that was never mentioned until after the fact. She tried to kill my little dog and everything that moved. I did a really great job of keeping them separated but also by training both to follow my lead. However, while working with the second dog on her own, everything that moved would get tracked. Her head was twice the size of mine, and I would get headbutted til I bled and even bit as I tried to control this dog. She even tagged me as I ran with her to help get rid of her energy. One night, she came too close to killing my little first dog. I did my research on animals with an inability to be changed, the brain chemicals and instincts that create a permanent response for a kill drive is irreversible once engaged in a dog. The first time she growled at me was the night I adopted her. But I had gained her trust, had fallen in love, and thought I could fix her. And I did, except for her kill drive. I have since lost both of my babies. We hiked together, played together, slept on the floor as a pack together, and we walked/trained daily. It is the owners responsibility to make sure their animals are not a threat to themselves or society. And once there is a bite history, no farm (which I tried), shelter, or other person will take on this responsibility. Shame on anyone who passes judgment or thinks our babies who we loved and gave everything for were not loved. Shame on anyone who thinks they could have done more or better. This is painful, this is heart breaking. And most times, it is thinly option to ensure there is no suffering to innocent lives. I did what I had to do, it was not a choice. To be a pack leader, to be alpha, means you have to act as an alpha. Dogs who don’t understand social order and are not trained with obedience will fail and will suffer. Tran your dogs, protect your pack, and love with all your heart.  Don’t beat yourself up if you go down this road. I tried for years to fix what could never be fixed. I extended both of my dogs lives, but it was at the extent of several dog bites and hospitalizations. The question was no longer if there would be a bite, it was when. Healthy and we’ll balanced dogs don’t bite to intentionally hurt you, and they don’t bite to kill. Both of mine did. I was lucky, and I loved them so much regardless, but I understand the responsibility of being a dog owner and pack mentality. I pray for all of you who are suffering, because I know your pain.

August 6, 2019

As I am reading all of these earlier posts it is helping me make the heart wrenching decision to euthanize our 3 year old border collie/lab mix. I am so afraid she is going to seriously hurt someone with her aggression.  We adopted Bella when she was 12 weeks old from a kill shelter.  The first time she bit someone was my husband when she was only 6 month old and he tried to cut her nails, she bit him pretty bad on his arm.  She has to be sedated at the vet for them to be able to cut her nails, clean her ears and give her booster shots.  She bit my husband a second time about 6 months ago just from him petting her on the top of her head just out of the blue.  She is now 3 years old and has bitten the little boy next door to us from getting out of our gated deck and charging after him, luckily she did not draw blood and left only a bite mark through his t-shirt when she grabbed him....our neighbors were very upset and authorities were called where they made a report about the incident.  She is unfriendly with anyone unfamiliar that comes into our house.  We have her on trazedone and Xanax twice a day, we have consulted with our vet who thinks that she may just be wired this way with aggression to bite both strangers and other dogs.  This is such an incredibly difficult decision to put down a physically healthy dog but I live in fear that she is going to seriously hurt someone in the future should she get loose.  We have also noticed her new behavior now is to dig under our fence to get loose in the yard. It just seems like as she gets older this aggression will get much worse and I don't want to be responsible for others getting bitten by her.

July 18, 2019

After being knocked down and bite by my son's girlfriend's Catahoula Leopord dog that I was caring for in her own home/farm - I researched the controversy as to whether all dogs CAN be rehabilitated to not attack.  This entire situation has been a Twilight Zone experience and this comment will be somewhat cathartic for me. I knew she was a rescue dog that had had some type of abuse in past and that she has bitten/attacked before. It had not happened for some months and there was some foolish hope that the problem was solved. (I say foolish, because there had been NO actual rehabilitation, simply restricting the scenario to avoid triggering fear/aggression in dog.  Once moment she was retrieving a ball from me and in a split second she knocked me down, leaving me bruised and bloody... running off with tail between legs, hiding, growling, barking. It took an hour, but I was able to calm and convince her to trust me. I offered a cautious TLC for the week. She looked into my eyes and relied on me for all her needs, showing joy and enthusiasm at my attention and affection. Yet during the week, for no apparent reason she showed teeth in a grizzle, she nipped. She is unstable and unpredictable.  I now know that she has bitten at least 6 other times, going for an injuring the groins of both adult men and 6 year old boy. The most frustrating thing about this is despite the likelihood that this dog's issues will result in serious injury - possibly fatal, with the potential for lawsuit resulting in financial destruction for my son- because the dog lives at his farm, his girlfriend/ probably soon to be EX- GF  is rabid with anyone that would expect her to be responsible for this dog. He has given her an ultimatum: put the dog down or he will. She insisted she could find a rescue home for dog and he gave her a week, because he knew she would put it off if not. He insists it is risky and immoral to risk anyone having this dog considering it is so unpredictable and large enough to do serious harm. She has shown ZERO appreciation that I cared for dog, ZERO remorse that I was injured and will not budge an inch - because she is so emotionally attached to this dog and in denial that it is dangerous.  I am fine, but still processing the experience and will likely have 3 significant scares on back of my thigh. I believe that in time the trauma of this attack will fade in my psyche, but as before and more so now, I realize when animals are fearful, their behavior cannot be predicted or trusted. Some say a dog behaviorist trainer COULD work miracle for ANY dog. Others say there is NO WAY to recover a dog with this type of history. She has also rounded up her "gang" and attacked other farm dogs on their farms. On most days she is a seemingly normal pet. Don't be fooled.

Megan Rigas
July 16, 2019

I just wanted to thank you for examples A and B in the third update. It really put my situation into perspective. I have 3 Danes, a Pyr, 2 cats and 3 children in the house. The Pyr has always had aggression issues but we worked with a breed specialist when she was younger and I thought everything was resolved for good. However recently she has started growling and snapping at the other animals and anyone who gets near her food or water dish. The old techniques are no longer working and I’ve been in denial about the reality of the situation. She’s also started breaking out of our fenced in yard so her potential to hurt someone outside the family is there too. So thanks for sharing your experience and knowledge, I know it’s helped me bring some real considerations to the forefront.

July 10, 2019

I had to do the exact same thing yesterday with my small dog Olaf. He was wired differently from ten weeks. I put up with the behavior for almost three years. I loved him so much though, so my heart is broken. He has bitten me, my son, my niece, a friend, wasn’t able to be bathed or groomed and was getting more aggressive with my son. Yesterday was the most emotional and dreadful day of my life and I only hope my Olaf has some peace over the rainbow bridge. I think for loving dog owners, this is by far the hardest things We’ve ever had to deal with. Support is needed here.

Denise Jones
June 8, 2019

I feel worried about the young female mixed dog we got from rescue.  She is ok away from house, yet very aggressive in defending the yard and the house.  She has bitten two people not breaking the skin yet doesn't respond to commands. Should I put her down, or get  more training.  We were not told about past bites from rescue.  It is better to put these dogs down and not keep passing them on.

June 2, 2019

Me and my boyfriend bought our french bulldog puppy around 3 years ago, we fell in love with him straight away and never stopped kissing and cuddling him. We always knew he was different even from a very young age, he seemed to dislike all dogs very quickly and this stopped us from trying to socialise him with other dogs. After about 6 months of having him, his behaviour towards people changed, he seemed to be very over protective of me and would hate it when people came over. It became stressful when people came through the front door, we had to keep him separate at all times. Now, coming up to 3 years later he has bitten around 15 people, including myself and for such a small dog he is so strong and powerful. We have made the heart wrenching decision to euthanise him, I’m so heartbroken as he is the most loving and affectionate dog around us, but I genuinely believe he is wired differently. I’m so glad I came across this article today, because I now know this is the right decision, so thank you so much.

Phyllis DeGioia
May 31, 2019

Kathy, I'm so sorry for your loss. I understand it, I really do. Yes, it's definitely one of the worst days of your life, or one of the worst episodes. I'm grateful that you did not try to rehome him, and am broken hearted right along with you. You tried everything, tried exactly what you should have tried, and understood that it has not worked well enough. I believe you made the right choice. The chicken nuggets were an excellent choice. Over time, the hurt will ease, but not soon enough. My heart is with you.

May 30, 2019

I posted a comment here over a year ago about my 9 year old boxer with an extensive bite history snapping at my toddler. The vet looked at me with disdain when I mentioned euthanasia and I felt so much guilt. I convinced my husband to allow strict separation at home and to try again. In the past year, we had another child. Then my husband tried to move the dog away from the door of a room I was in and was bitten twice. I couldn’t do it anymore. How can I keep two children safe? He was a shelter dog and I have tried meds, training, a behaviorist, and containment over the past 7 years. I would never forgive myself if one of my children was bitten. I contacted a different vet who agreed it was too dangerous for him to live with children. I won’t rehome him because I wouldn’t wish these problems on anyone. Today he ran at his favorite park, ate treats and chicken nuggets. I held him until he passed and it was heartbreaking and horrifying. I held him and told him he was a good boy and that I loved him. The grief and guilt is fresh and I wish the memory of the euthanasia could be wiped from my mind. I hope he was happy with his snacks and my hugs. I love him so much. This may be one of the worst days of my life.

May 24, 2019

Walked on eggshells etc etc.   But took him to the Dog Park.  Thank you for reminding me how dangerous they've become. 

Eugene C Shults
May 23, 2019

I'm having a similar situation. Yesterday my 6 year old pit/Weim mix bit my mother in law pretty bad - she had to go to the hospital and stay overnight so they could check for potential compartment syndrome. I've had Buckley since July of 2017 and picked him up from a rescue. The problem is this dog is not really nervous on a day to day basis. He's very sweet, constantly rolling on his back for a belly rub. What triggered the event yesterday was my mother in law was watching my son (1 years). A physical therapist which my son sees once or twice a week was coming in the house and as my mother in law was handing off my son, that's when he attacked. It wasn't the first time he bit her, but this was the first time that this much damage was done. To date, the only people he attacked are my in laws (he bit my father in law once when we were catering BBQ and the delivery guy came in). It's easy to say that it may have been due to how they were handling the dog (I didn't see any of the attacks), but that isn't something I can prove and our household is becoming more and more chaotic with family members coming in and out. I feel like I failed this dog and put him in these situations he should't be in. This is very tough because i feel obliged to do something considering what happened to my mother in law but I don't want to make hasty irreversible decisions. I do want to get him checked out by a behavioralist to see what he/she thinks before going down that path.

Teri Ann Oursler, DVM
May 9, 2019

Natalie, I am so sorry you are having to deal with an aggressive dog as well as living as a prisoner in your own home. You said, "I would never put down a healthy dog". I would say that your dog is not healthy, he is mentally unhealthy; living in fear and anxiety. You too are living in fear and anxiety, trying to protect people who come to your house. If a mistake is ever made, and he does bite someone, you will feel even worse. Living in fear is not good for you, your family, your other pets, or for your dog.

May 9, 2019

I read this article often. I want to say I may have to put down my 5 year old border collie/shepherd mutt mix due to extreme aggression but it's almost too much to bear to think about. Ever since he was a puppy, he was difficult and different. He was almost always aggressive towards other dogs, but then after about a year or two years he became that way with people. The situation escalated even worse when we moved to our first house and he started showing extreme aggression to anyone who came over. We have spent the last 2 years trying our hardest to isolate him from anyone who comes over and have to resort to keeping him in the back yard when company is over. We got another dog who is an absolute sweetheart, in hopes that she could improve his quality of life, but he has not changed (though the dog interaction is a complete blessing). He even bit the cat he grew up with in the face, has tried to attack my old cat (who we had to rehome to my parents after trying to get him to be nice to her for over a year) and basically we just manage the situation. I wish there was more I could do. So many times I say "I HATE that dog!" or "I wish we could just give him away!" and the anger always fades to a deep depression because I do love that dog and I would never put a healthy animal down. But I don't know what will draw the line. I don't know how I could live with myself. But we have to realize if he gets hurt, we would never be able to take him to a vet. We have tried to take him to a trainer but they told us it would cost us about $3,500 and months of driving him to the trainers every day, and we don't have the funds, the time, or the ability to do any of that with how young we are and how much we work. It's devastation. I feel like I'm living in a prison in my own home. I hope that everyone who has experienced this or has problems like this will eventually have peace with whatever decision you decide to make. Thank you all for reading this and understanding each other's pain.

April 19, 2019

Hi all. I found this site a year ago when my boyfriend sent it to me. 2 years ago I got a mini Aussie and was in love. When he was 6 months we noticed something was different. He avoided people, he barked and lunged at people during walks. We took him to a trainer who said he was exhibiting fear aggression and recommended an amazing vet behaviorist. While waiting to see her, I left Chip with my parents as I was in college with roommates & it wouldnt have been good for him, and my parents took him to my relatives. It was there that he first bit my aunt hard enough to draw blood. Our behaviorist immediately set up an appointment. We began medications after medications, and training him. We had to close all blinds in the house because when he saw people walking, he would throw himself at the window. When we had people over, he had to be put on tranquilizers and kept in his kennel in a separate room. Even that wasn’t enough to calm him. He couldn’t go on walks, and could hardly go outside before lunging obsessively at our fence when he heard the neighbors or their children. A few months later, he bit another relative so hard she should have required stitches. I was devastated. My one year old puppy only cared for me, my family and boyfriend. When he got into his fearfulness and aggression, nothing could snap him out if it. I worked with the behaviorist monthly and car home from college weekly to work with Chip. It hurt me so deeply that this loving, silly, incredibly smart pup couldn’t be that way with other people. It broke my heart that he was constantly living in a world of fear- even with medications. I began seriously thinking of a future with him and how he would be in an apartment, or with a child. I made the incredibly difficult and most heart wrenching decision to put him down. The risks were too high and his quality of life was not what it should be for a dog. I was wracked with guilt and grief. I still struggle. What if I had done more? What if I had caught it sooner? Three days after Chip was put down, our beloved family lab passed away unexpectedly. I was left completely and totally devastated and full of anxiety. It’s been almost a year now. I miss both dogs every day. I really want another dog, but I’m extremely fearful of getting another dog that has the same problems as Chip. It’s probably silly, but that experience left me so broken that I’m just terrified the same thing will happen with another dog that I get. I’m sorry this is so long, and thank you for reading and understanding. Love & understanding to all who have also experienced this.

April 19, 2019

You stood by your best friend.  You didn’t pass him off on an unexpecting rescue, or put him in a shelter like most do.  You stood by him and did what was needed.  Too many people make aggression in dogs someone else’s issue.  The horrifying thing is they recognize the danger but aren’t completely honest so that a rescue or shelter will accept them.  Then someone who  gives there time and heart to rescue dogs ends up in the hospital.  My advice to anyone is the same-if possible consult with your vet, trainer, Behaviorlist but dig deep and pull out your courage.  Don’t bounce your Fur baby around,  find the strength to stand by your pet and love them till the end.  Euthanasia is so hard but if they are wired wrong don’t let them feel abandoned, let them go.

April 18, 2019

I think I may have to put down my 6 1/2 year old mutt Millie. She has never been 'normal' and I'm very nervous of her around people. She has gotten out of an invisible fenced yard twice to chase 1 particular dog. This morning was the 2nd time, she had her collar on, and I was outside with her picking up poop. The neighbor threatened to call the city. When I have company over she is closed off in my room. She doesn't listen to me very good, but is sweet to me. I'm even afraid to take her to a kennel. My friend says to just put her on a leash all the time, but what is her quality of life? I don't want to give up on her, but I don't want her to hurt anyone or another animal. I'm so sad.

April 10, 2019

Thank you for your article &  your passion.   Today I have to have my beloved 8 year old mastiff/boxer euthanized because of extreme aggression that has turned him into cujo & violently attacking everyone!  He was always so sweet & the life of the party!  My heart is absolutely crushed!  I know it's the right thing to do but still so very hard!

April 6, 2019

Thank you for sharing your story, and please know, you are not alone, and you did the right thing. I had a female Boerboel who was my pride and joy.  I socialized her constantly, and brought her to training classes, and followed all the rules for giant breed guard dogs. When she was six months old, I got a ten week old male Boerboel.  He had extreme possession aggression issues, and bit my arm down to his gums with his baby teeth. I worked with him every day, several times a day, hand feeding him, dropping ‘better’ treats in his dog dish while he was eating.  I was skeptical, and feared I would one day have to put him down. Fast forward six months;  my female began to viciously attack him, unprovoked.  It was horrible, and I knew she would have killed him if she could have.  I kept her separated from him, and sought every kind of professional advice and help. Several months later, apropos of nothing, she savagely attacked and killed my 14 year old Boston Terrier, whom she had grown up with, and played and slept with all the time.  I can’t describe how horrific it was, and both me and my 6’4 son could not pull her off the other dog.  It was as though we did not exist. While she had always been sweet, loving and submissive to my son and I, I made the agonizing decision to have her euthanized.  There was no doubt in my mind that if she ever got loose, she would have killed something, or someone. I don’t know what went wrong with her, and I think that despite our best efforts, some dogs are just wired wrong. On a happy note, my male Boerboel, whom I had nicknamed ‘unstable Abel’, has evolved into the kindest, most loving, happiest dog ever.  I can take a steak out of his mouth easily, and he loves other people, and is good with my horses and cats.  I always thought HE would be the problem, but after his initial possession aggression was dealt with, he has never once showed any of the predatory or wary behavior my female always had.  (Which is fortunate, because he is currently 162 lbs., and 33 inches at the shoulder). I’m sorry this is so long, but it just goes to show, some dogs cannot be ‘fixed’, and as responsible pet owners, it is up to us to make the right, albeit, heart wrenching decisions.  Love to all.

April 1, 2019

Thank you very much for sharing your story and helping others to share their story.  my story is a bit different from some of yours.  A lot of you knew the completely awful side of your dog.  You experienced a bite. Thankfully and not so thankfully I didn't experience that.  Two days ago my wife and I put down our foster dog.  He came to us at about 5 months old.  He was becoming reactive at the rescue's main office in his crate and they thought having time out of his kennel in a home environment would do him good.  It did help him.  He took well to both of us.  He loved us.  He showered us with kisses, snuggles and all types of affection all the time.  He was so incredibly affectionate towards us.  We looked past the jumping to head height at first and what seemed to be his attempts to nip at our face.  We took it as he wanted to give us kisses.  I still don't know if it was kisses or he thought we were a toy or he wasn't sure if he should bite us or not.  Whatever it was he never bit us or anyone else.  And he showed us sooooooo much love.  He just struggled to let almost anyone else in.  We spent nearly 11 months with him.  We feared having friends or family over because he would go crazy and he had the scariest bark you will ever hear.  Even when crated he would go crazy in his crate.  My wife lived in constant fear the last several months that he would get out and seriously injure someone.  we had a fence but couldn't be sure he wouldn't find a way up or under it.  We didn't know if a neighbor kid would inadvertently leave the gate open.  We just didn't know what might happen.  He was fearful of others and he always seemed to revert to fight mode.  He was on the wrong end of a few dog fights with his first foster brother.  He always wanted to play and the other foster seemed to be happy to play most of the time but then he wouldn't show him respect when it was time to be done.  over time this escalated and my wife and I were so high strung by the time the other foster was finally adopted that we might have just been out of energy for him.  During this past summer, we gave him lots of exercise, play dates with dogs, treats and training.  After a great play session, we loved watching him snore on the floor in front of the air conditioning vent.  One time after a walk he changed positions three times to get the best air.  First for his back, then for his chest and lastly for his face.  He could be so great.  The thing that hurts the most is the lingering thoughts that maybe if we had done this or that it would have been different.  How did I screw up so bad to screw up this dog and now make him pay for my sins?  My wife tells me he wasn't wired correctly.  I know she is right.  he gave us too many signs.  She worked with the behaviorist.  She says he was only going to get worse.  And I know she is right.  During all his time with us he only had one meet and greet with potential adopters.  He nipped both of them upon first meeting them. He wasn't adoptable and despite the fact that we loved him he wasn't our dog and we didn't choose him.  He did choose us and we gave him a great life while he was with us.  He wanted for nothing.  he had a safe and loving home, he grew from 50lbs to nearly 70lbs.  We gave him lots of toys and kongs and mental stimulation through snuffle mats, and on and on and on.  he needed us so much.  And now that he is gone a part of me feels missing. And I know it isn't right for a dog to be that dependent and needy and yet I feel almost lost.  I know he is now out of the pain of his own head.  He was too fearful of everything.  My wife tells me I should feel proud that we never let him bite anyone.  I am trying to feel that way.  And your stories help me to feel that way.  And right now I just hurt. I am sorry if this comes off selfish.  I can assure you my wife and I struggled with this for a long time and we feel horrible that we couldn't save him.  We wanted to so badly.  We wanted everyone to see the side of him that we saw.  He didn't want to though and we couldn't change that.   We will miss you and you will live on with us forever.

Rowena Wildin
March 25, 2019

Thank you for writing about your experience. Momo was euthanized today. He was about 8 years old. He came to us from a shelter, and we were told he had been returned because he was frightened of things. Turns out he was fear aggressive. There were dog fights with our other dogs and we got bit, and you could not touch the dog. After Foster died (he had always protected us by getting between us and Momo), Momo tried to bite my face, but I basically was just scratched. We got Momo checked out to see if there was a physical reason--there was none. Momo went on Prozac. We sought out a behaviorist, but it was clear things could get better but not good. He was an only dog for about 8 months, but although he improved, he still wouldn't allow touching past a certain point. You could pet him, then suddenly he would growl and bite. I was lonely and we adopted another dog, keeping them apart. Momo barked at the other dog through the window, and I tried to calm Momo. I was picking up something and putting it in his bed when he bit my elbow, with the whole elbow in his mouth.  I successfully calmed him and he let go. It was very scary as I thought he might crush some bones. A week or so later, my husband, for some reason, let him sleep next to him while napping. When he awoke, he spoke to Momo, then Momo got up and licked his face. Then suddenly Momo bit his face, puncturing the cheek.  He bit down three times until I came running. (Momo had gotten into a fight with Foster once and had also bitten him resulting in a puncture wound to the cheek.) We had to euthanize Momo.  Momo was his same self afterward, but even I knew hat it could be me, my husband, or my mother next. Whatever happened to Momo when he was young, there was no fixing it. I've always believed love (read caring treatment and behavior alteration) could fix things, whether husbands or dogs or whatever, but it is clear that sometimes it isn't enough. Still, I feel as if I have failed Momo. I feel guilty in that I adopted another dog, making the situation worse. But Foster had been my solace and it was clear that Momo would never be a source of solace--thus the other dog. I feel guilty in that Foster was my sweetheart and I could not interact with Momo was much as I wanted to when Foster was alive as Foster would get jealous. But then, maybe Foster knew Momo's heart better than I did. I feel guilty in that I did not contact a behaviorist sooner. I feel guilty in that Momo was showing increasing affection and love toward me until we go the other dog. And I feel guilty that my husband got bit in the race. I feel terrible guilt in having to euthanize Momo. It is worse in that because there was no 10-day quarantine period, the vet must submit Momo's head to be tested for rabies. I can only go forward from here.  I thank you for posting the updates. Your posts help heal many of us.

Doglover Forever
March 25, 2019

Thank you so much for this article! I am so shocked over the number of people dealing with this issue and I am glad that I’m not alone in this decision. I have a 17 month old blue Lacey pit bull mix named Ace. He is a beautiful boy. He is our baby boy. That’s what we call him, our Acey boy. We’ve had him since he was 4 weeks old. My sister saw him on Facebook and the momma dog had quit nursing so he needed a home fast. We were too excited to bring him home. I have 4 kids all over the age 16, still living at home as well as my sister and my mom. We all took turns taking care of him. He slept in our arms as a puppy. We took him to the vet. Got his shots. Got him neutered. It took a little longer than it should have because it is kinda pricey. And all along the vet is telling us that we can’t take him out and about until he has all his shots. So we did just that. But by this time we started noticing that he did not like strangers at all. We finally got all his shots and took him to puppy training. His first group lesson did not go well because he barked at the trainer and other dogs the whole time. The trainer said he would have to start out with one on one classes then work his way up to the group class. It sounded so easy at the time. Cut to 6 months later and he still is doing one on one and is still barking and lunging at strangers. It was getting expensive and we weren’t seeing any real results with his issues with other people so we stopped taking him to classes. Then one day we forget to make sure the latch clicked on the door and boom. He gets out. And it’s right when school gets out. My youngest daughter was the only one home at the time and she went running after him. But he is so fast! He does not listen when he gets out. He ends up biting a teenage boy that day. Thankfully it wasn’t a full on bite and his tooth just scratched the boy. Our dog was quarantined for 10 days and because of the things the vet saw during those 10 days he advised us to euthanize Ace. He felt that something was wrong in his brain. He said It is not a breed thing or even anything we might have done or not done. We were not ready to hear that at the time so he suggested anxiety medication. We started him on trazadone and faithfully gave him his meds. We became very diligent about making sure doors are closed and locked. Making sure when guests come over that he is kenneled. But the inevitable happened again 2 days ago. He gets out and it all happened so fast. There are workers outside and he bee lines it right to them. He is barking and getting closer and we are panicking and running after him. Calling his name. One of the guys turns his back to Ace and that’s his opportunity. He lunges at his leg. I see him bite. My neice gets to him first and he runs. The guy is yelling. There are neighbors coming out. Ace runs to them. We are yelling to please go back inside. There’s a guy walking with headphones obviously oblivious to what’s going on. Ace runs after him. Barking and snarling. All his hair is standing up on his back. He is slobbering everywhere. Thankfully the guy turns around and Ace does not bit him. Finally something back by our house catches his eye and he runs to our side yard. The neighbors dogs are outside in their fenced yard and they distract him enough for us to catch him. My daughter actually caught him and in doing so landed on a rusty nail puncturing her knee. I then grab his collar and try to get him to our yard. My sister actually picked him up to get him in our backyard and he scratched and bit her and I somehow got a scratch on my arm. Not sure if it was Ace or the trees when trying to grab him. Animal control was called. We got a ticket for $250. Turns out that although he bit the first guy he didn’t break the skin so they weren’t going to take Ace for quarantine again. I was literally still shaking an hour later. My only thought was what if a child were to come outside at that moment. I could not live with myself if he had hurt a child. And I have no doubt that he would have. It is so because he has never been aggressive towards us. (Except turning on my sister when she grabbed him that day) he sleeps in our beds at night. Taking turns between family members. He can be the sweetest baby boy. It hurts my heart so deeply to make this decision. But We can’t keep looking the other way. We have to do what’s right. It’s not a case of if he ever gets out again, it’s when. Will there be a child walking with their family to the park? Will there be an elderly neighbor working in their yard? What if we weren’t home? What if my mom is the only one here? She has bad knees, she can’t run, she can hardly walk... I believe now what our vet told us months ago. He is not wired right. Whether it be genetic or overwhelming anxiety... either way we can’t take that chance. I write this crying as he sleeps at my feet tonight. We will be taking him to the vet tomorrow. I hate this has happened to my family. I hate that my kids have to experience this. Please pray for us.

March 20, 2019

This was hard to read and stirs up the mixed feelings I have over euthanizing our 6 yo Lab-Rot cross 2 wks ago after the 3rd attack on our 14 yo GSH Pointer.  These are outdoor working farm dogs, & we thought the first attack (last April) was caused by a run-in with a wild animal, maybe a coon.  It was serious, with slashing bite wounds on the neck and the side of her face, the inner ear on that side "shredded", causing her to lose hearing on that side.  She pulled through remarkably well, with no lingering affects other than the hearing loss. The 2nd attack came in November, was life-threatening, with the same kind of wounds in the same places as the first attack but far more serious this time.   Again, we thought a wild animal attack, but, this time,somewhere deep in the back of my mind, was a nagging question, could these attacks possibly be coming from the younger dog. We adopted her at 6 months old and she'd been raised with this older dog. They were tightly bonded from the very beginning, the younger dog never wanting to go anywhere or do anything without the older dog.  I just couldn't imagine that she would do this, so I pushed the thought from my mind. After that, with winter coming on, both dogs were kept in our attached, heated garage for the most part while the older dog healed from her injuries.  While being housed in the garage, they got lots of attention since both my husband and I have work shops out there where we spend many winter hours on various projects. Any time I was out there, I closely observed their behavior.....during feedings and just normal interaction.  I saw nothing unusual. The winter went by without incident, and now it's March, nearly a yr after the first attack. Two weeks ago, on a Sat morning, my husband went into the garage, as usual, to let the dogs out for their morning potty break and roll in the snow.  What he stepped into was nothing short of a nightmare!  The garage looked like something out of a slasher movie, blood from corner to corner, on the floor, on the walls, on the door leading into the house where Sadie (the older dog) had obviously tried to get help. It was everywhere, and the older dog was laying on the concrete floor, in a pool of blood that had coagulated into something that looked like her insides had spilled out.  She was alive, but hanging by a thread. The younger dog showed absolutely no signs of knowing she'd done anything  wrong, but this time, there was no doubt about who the attacker was and had been all along.  I was absolutely DEVASTATED, heart sick over this poor dog being attacked AGAIN and by her companion, no less, racked with guilt that I hadn't protected her, and at the same time, overwhelmed with grief over what I believed would be the outcome, the loss of one or both of these dogs that I loved so dearly.  We loaded up both dogs, into separate vehicles, and went to the Veterinary Clinic to see if the older dog could be saved and also consult with the veterinary regarding the younger dog in light of discovering, for certain, that she was the source of these vicious attacks.  For background.....Going back about 18 months, this younger dog had suffered a torn CCL, which is the canine equivalent of a torn ACL in humans.  We were told that surgical repair was over $1000 and post-surgical rehab would be almost as much.  We were told that the long-term results of these surgeries are not positive, that it was not likely to be a long-term solution, especially with large, active dogs such as ours.  They couldn't give any idea on how long it might help; it  could be several months, it could be several years, there was no way to know for sure and there was no guarantee it would completely alleviate the pain associated with these injuries.  She'd been on a regimen of pain pills every since, but, as time passed, I could tell that they were no longer taking care of the pain completely and wondered from time to time if I was being selfish by keeping her with us because I didn't want to give her up or if I was doing the right thing by giving her as much time as I could.  It's so hard to know the level of pain in a creature who can't tell you how much it hurts.  As we consulted with the Vet that Saturday morning, this situation was part of the conversation. The Vet's feeling was that this "lashing out" was likely due to the pain that we couldn't completely control, and that the most humane solution for the dog, as well as for the safety of others, both animal and human, she thought it best to euthanize. That is the decision we made, and my beautiful dog didn't come home with us that day.  The Vet was able to patch Sadie up one more time, and she has survived another vicious attack, but not without long term repercussions this time. The same ear was injured and a nerve destroyed so the ear doesn't move anymore.  When she cocks her ears, only one goes up, the other never moves.  It doesn't really matter to her since she lost hearing in that ear after the first attack, but it sure looks goofy!  She's also quite weak in the back legs, which doesn't have anything to do with her injuries, per sae. but, as the Vet explained, this attack & resulting trauma, took her down so much and has  hastened what was likely coming in the future as she continues to age.  She isn't 100% healed yet, but she's doing well.  She's now a full time house dog, although she's not settled into that yet, still not sure that it's a good thing to be inside when all the "action" is outside. Come spring and warmer weather, she'll be able to out more often, but I'm not ready to let her out of my sight quite yet.  I can't lose them both soon close together! What's really heart wrenching, is the fact that she's grieving over her friend, always looking for her when we go into the garage, checking out the corner where her bed was, sniffing around old "haunts" whenever she goes outside, not eating eagerly and sleeping much of the day.  I've had other dogs grieve the loss of a companion dog so I recognize the signs she's displaying. I know this will pass, but I am again reminded of a dog's ability to forgive, how much abuse a dog will take and still love their abuser.  Sadie's companion nearly killed her three times, and yet she grieves the loss of her beloved friend, and so do I.  I will never be completely at ease with our decision to put down this beautiful dog.  She was exceptionally intelligent and had always been affectionate to everyone, never showing any aggression until this.  Did we do the right thing?  Was this aggression something that was aimed only at the older dog and would never have shown itself again, to anyone else?  Did I give up on her too soon?  I'll never for certain the answers to those questions.  What I do know is we have 7 grandchildren, and we felt we just couldn't take the chance that this aggression would rear again, and the next time, be aimed at a child.  In my mind, I believe we did the only responsible thing we could, but in my heart, I will carry the heaviness of doubt forever.

March 17, 2019

We have just gone through this same situation.  I recued a dog from the woods 9 months ago -- it took me 2 weeks to finally capture him.  He was so weak and malnourished.  Around Thanksgiving he became aggressive when startled, and like you... we had him checked out by a vet.  He was prescribed paxil…... and we proceeded to tippytoe around him.  I was walking into my bedroom the other night and he charged at me...knocking me to the floor... not biting but snarling in my face.  I have just recovery from a knee fracture after he ran past me and knocked me to the ground while on a leash walk. The shame I felt and the sadness that was deep in my soul when we made the decision that we could not keep him.  The final straw was 2 days ago when he jumped the 6 foot fence and mauled my neighbors small dog - requiring 13 sutures.  I had hopes we could turn him around - unfortunately we could not.  Sadly my neighbors dog was injured and I can't forgive myself for this.  We all have to make difficult decisions.  He was not a dog that could be re-homed.

March 15, 2019

Thank you so much for writing this, and posting the annual updates. I started crying when I read your first few paragraphs about the betrayal and other emotions you felt when being bitten by your own dog. It's like you read my mind and articulated the feelings I'm having. I never thought I would be in this place with a dog, especially not one that I raised from 3 months of age and deligently trained using positive behavior training, consistent daycare, socialization and so much more. my heart aches but your story truly makes me feel better and I just want you to know how helpful it was for me to read this. thank you

Phyllis DeGioia
March 11, 2019

Georgia, This decision is possibly one of the hardest of your life. I understand. My heart is with you.

Georgia Ponton
March 11, 2019

I know the decision I have to make, but it is so hard. My 2byear old pit is getting more and more aggressive. Over the summer, he mailed a child's back and bit him several places. This child had to go to the ER. The parent were amazing and didn't even ask us to euthanize the dog. His behavior became erratic only a few weeks before this attack because the dog himself was bitten and attacked by a neighbor's dog. After that, he has never been the same. I thought time would heal but each day, his barks and growls get more terrifying. I have nieces and nephews that come to visit and I am certain by his behavior that he would attack them if he was loose. This is just so hard

Camille Teigan
March 8, 2019

I miss Drake everyday. He was our beautiful black boy but he had a side that was frightening. The last episode my 2 month old was sleeping and he attacked our small dog he had known for 2 years. I broke them apart and he then attacked me. He had been aggressive for a long time but we always made excuses and hired the wrong type of dog trainers. We may not have been perfect dog owners but we did our best. He loved running, we ran miles and miles in all different states over the years. Its heartbreaking and I will never be the same. The only peace I have is reading all the similar stories and also knowing my baby will never be hurt by him. The only way my husband and I knew it was absolutley time was when we took him to a behaviorist. She confirmed he had too many triggers to live with a child and was not rehomeable not that I would want anyone else to get hurt. I talk to his ashes all the time and still feel his larger than life personality by my side. My advice to anyone going through this is please save the money if you have to and go see a professional behaviorist..board certified with a PhD. We spent $600 but it was well worth the peace of mind knowing it was time. Thank you.

Kristy Hani
March 6, 2019

I have been contemplating on whether to Euthaninzing my dog . We've had him for 7 yrs and in that time he's bitten us several times and each time the bites get worse , we love him so much that we overlooked it even last year when he bit my sister so badly we had to go to the ER on Xmas Eve . I have only found out last year that i'm Diabetic . My worries have since escalated seeing as he bit my sister again very badly yesterday . Time and time again we have tried to curb his aggression . We now have a child that lives with us and he has grabbed her a few times , she has not been injured by him though . It is with a heavy heart that we have made the choice to have him Euthanized . I thank you for this article as it has made me come to terms with what must be done .

Phyllis DeGioia
March 4, 2019

You're welcome, "the one that had a beagle." It is an extremely hard, irreversible decision and should never be taken lightly. However, I wish with all my heart and soul that you didn't feel guilty - I know you went over in your head how you would feel if the worst happened. There are chemical issues in people and dogs that we simply cannot control; think of people who are under regular care by psychiatrists whose mental illness cannot be controlled even with medication and talk therapy. I believe that mental illness or extremely poor socialization is at the heart of most canine aggression; this does not make you a failure. If you still cannot talk about it within your family, I suggest talking to a professional. A year and a half is a long time to feel such a burden of heavy guilt, and it must affect most areas of your life. I am sorry about Hollie, and how much you and your family hurt. My heart is with you. Please take care of yourself.

Paul Jordan
March 4, 2019

I've read this article at least 3 times in its entirety as I grapple with this same issue and wait for my hand to heal from the latest in a series of bites from our 9 year old beagle, Rockwell. Most of the time, he is sweet, affectionate and loving. Then without warning, the next thing you know you have been bitten. The latest bite is a puncture wound to the palm that required a tetanus shot. In the last 5 years, he's bitten me 5 or 6 times, in varying degrees of severity.  We've consulted with our vet, who agrees that euthanasia is the right thing to do, but I am consumed with guilt. Rockwell was a rescue that previously had been hit by a car and likely had owners who abused him, or at the least, neglected him.  He's had a loving home and the best care for the last 8 years, but the biting incidents come without warning, even if far apart. This animal I love feels like a stranger to me now. Someone in my house that I can never trust again. I feel as I have somehow failed this animal, but don't see a way forward with him.  I know I need to find the resolve to go ahead with this, but it is so very hard.

The one that had a beagle
March 3, 2019

Dear Phyllis, thank you so much for your article, I discovered it whilst researching material for the canine behaviour and psychology course I am studying. I am not ready to talk about details yet but had my beloved Hollie euthanized 16 months ago due to unpredictable aggressive behaviour. It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make and I have struggled with the guilt ever since but reading your article has helped me tremendously. We don’t talk about it as a family, I’m not sure my father will ever truly forgive me as I know I have broken his heart but I also know I did the right thing. I am sorry you and so many of the commenters have experienced this too but reading through the situations of each has offered some comfort and helped me to started to believe I am not a failure after all. Thank you.

March 1, 2019

My dog can be the absolute sweetest thing but she’s lately been getting more nippy w/ a child in the house (I live w/ family), their dog, & last night she went after a neighbor dog & hurt it (not bad from what I’m told, but she still hurt it). She’s had a few instances in the past where she has hurt other dogs worse then last night. I’m struggling w/ what to do w/ her as she just turned 3 & is otherwise healthy. I see it escalating & it makes me an anxious wreck constantly. I haven’t decided what to do yet but reading this was helpful. Thank you for your honesty. You’re right, humans wait for something bad while justifying the signs leading up to it.

Polly's Mom
February 12, 2019

Thank you for writing such an honest article it helped me heal after I had to put my aggressive German Shepherd down. Since that time I have been grieving hard and filled with guilt. My dog had bitten all 3 of my children and attacked 2 men. He started growling at me and showing me his teeth. One time he bit me on the arm but as soon as his teeth touched my skin he retracted. He tried to attack everyone and everything. I put a muzzle on him 24/7. Confined him to a crate. Until one day my adult son said the dog had to go because they all lived in fear when I wasn't there. So, I took him to Animal control. He lunged at the workers viciously snarling and trying to attack. If I hugged him he snarled at me. If I tried to cut his nails he tried to bite had food aggression. I had him for 4 years. I was crazy to have put everyone in danger and kept him after he kept biting. But I still feel horrible. Miss him more than anything. I did buy another dog. But this time a professionally trained one for $10,000. What a difference. No more dog wars or putting my family, friends and strangers in danger. That is what it came down to. To make a decision to be responsible and find an adult that had been professionally trained its entire life. Reading the CDC webistie about people getting killed by their dogs was a wake up call. Thank you for listening.

Steve Schula
February 8, 2019

Thanks for the great article Phyllis. Yesterday, my wife and I put down our bassador of three years. Oliver was a pitiful 6-month old rescue who was in bad shape when we got him...malnourished, mange, and probably abused. The rescue told us he was food aggressive. As a lifetime dog owner, I too thought I could take on his food aggression and any other issues without fail. He had deep seated trust issues that caused him to have random bouts of unpredictable biting (hard to train or train around or for that). Over a 2 1/2 yr period he bit 10x different family members to varying degrees with the worst his last...Although he became my smartest and best trained pup...he never trusted me - us. Putting him down yesterday was devastating...the guilt is freshly still crushing...but the guilt we would face if he hurt a family member worse than me this week...or a neighborhood kid...was just too much to also carry around. It will continue to sting, probably for years to come. Knowing we're not the only ones out there going through this helps greatly. Thanks again! Steve

Phyllis DeGioia
February 7, 2019

Hi Rebecca, Thank you for the kind compliment. This decision is excruciating and final, and when they have so many days during which they are really their own happy selves, it compounds the difficulty. Human behavior being what it is, we do tend to wait for a disaster. Not all of us; I know a woman whose lab bit her toddler, and she took him to the vet that day to be euthanized. I disagreed with the speed with which she made the decision. I waited until I fell down the stairwell and came close to breaking my neck - a near miss of a disaster that was likely to happen again. Fortunately or unfortunately, no one can make this decision for us. I will remind you of what you already know: that a large dog the size of a Great Pyr can do incredible damage to a person's body, the liability that goes along with that is enormous, and that the limiting of your lives has become unbearable. My heart is with you. I wish you peace.

Rebecca Self
February 7, 2019

This is the best article I've read on the topic. We have a Great Pyr we've raised from 11 weeks. He has escalating aggression issues & chronic health problems... but not enough to put him down (we thought). We've spent thousands and thousands on Europe's best veterinary care, training and a behaviorist. The living on eggshells and limiting our lives because of the dog has become unbearable. Our neighbors are rightly afraid of him and their fear seems to make him more aggressive toward them. I'm really clear no one else will be able or willing to care for this dog. This is hard. He's only 2. I think we will have to put him down, but he has so many good days that seems wrong. The lines here that helped the most were: "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." That's what we're doing. Ugh. I'm dreading making this decision for our beautiful big boy.

February 3, 2019

It's been 2 months now since we had to euthanize our dog, still thinking about him, my wife dreamt of him 2 nights ago and she was of course very emotional about it, here's our story hoping it'll help anyone looking for some comfort (English is not my native language, please pardon-me by advance). So we've adopted this pup from a rescue shelter, he was a 2 months old partially blind and totally deaf Catahoula found in a forest next to the highway. The first month at home was tough but he really found his place pretty fast, he was smart, curious, very social and gentle. Everything went fine for the next 8 months, we already had 2 small dogs at home but they got along. Since his blindness wasn't that bad, we taught him a dozen of hand signs, my wife used to take him for a run from time to time (he even won a medal in a public race), I was playing with him every day in our back yard without a leash since he knew he had to stay around the house, that dog loved to run and be free, the frisbee was his favorite toy ever and even being partially blind he could still run after it and catch it middle air. Even my mother in law used to take him out (we were living with her). He had treats, toys, 2 beds, love, exercise. Of course he was a stubborn boy sometimes and he challenged me a couple time, still it always been reasonable and he never gave me any hint of what was coming, mostly because it wasn't his fault anyway. The first bite occured on the 31th of october, out of nowhere he jumped at my mother in law's face and bite her when she tried to put the leash on him, thing she used to do every day, she even used to give him a treat after taking him out. Later on, it went from bad to worst, we tried to understood what happened and work on it, the dog wasn't stressed, wasn't sick and yet his behavior kept escalating randomly without any trigger. Couple days after that he got my arm to blood while we were playing inside, his mood suddenly changed and he attacked, after a few minutes he came slowly at me and licked me as if he knew something happened. Maybe a week after that, it was in the middle of the night this time, he tried to attack my wife (she was the target for some reasons) continuously for 5 long minutes, I was between him and her, holding a pillow to avoid any direct contact, 5 minutes later he was back to his usual self, his eyes got softer, his tail wagging, he came to lick me, our dog was back and he looked like he just woke up from a nightmare. Sadly this experience really frightened my wife and she refused to sleep with him around anymore (and we're talking about a dog person). The next day I was with him in the room watching tv, he was on his bed, suddenly he stood up, started to growl and came straight at me trying to bite again and again for at least 10 minutes (I was keeping track of those "moments" on the calendar and it was definitely getting longer and more intense.), then he calmed down like nothing happened. The first vet gave him some medecine thinking it was due to an infection, but it didn't work and the agressions kept going, at least 7 times just on the month of november. He was fine 95% of the time, happy and playfull dog, but those 5% were getting way too dangerous for everyone in the house, no way we could let him in a shelter by himself or give him away knowing that would eventually lead to an accident. He was strong and was going to grow stronger. So by the 3rd of december I took the decision to put him to sleep, my wife didn't agree with me but I just couldn't put anyone at risk anymore waiting for something really bad to happen. The behaviorists thought it was maybe some sort of tumor, or more probably a genetic illness, the second vet confirmed that theory telling us it wasn't the first blind and deaf catahoula with those exact "moments". We played for hours that morning, even my neighbor's dog who knew and used to play with our pup "froze" when the dog was around him, as he knew something was off. Then we went to the vet for a final trip, lot of tears of course but what he told us really released a lot from my wife's shoulder, he said "Considering the situation, If I would've been in your shoes, I would have done the same, for the family, dog included." We came back home, I grabbed a shovel and started to dig, we put his bed and him there, then I gathered his favorite toys from all around the house and yard so he could have them with him. The feeling of having failed him is inevitable, you're here with no control of the situation and no way to help him other than taking his life away, but the worst is you know is has to be done.

Teri Ann Oursler, DVM
February 2, 2019

Amanda, I am so sorry you are in this position.  From your description, you have done your best with Wyatt.  The end result is that none of you is happy, all of you are anxious and walking on egg-shells, including Wyatt.  That is no way to live, not for Wyatt, you, your husband, or your kids. Putting the safety of you and your family first is very important.  Yes, it is hard, very hard to have Wyatt euthanized, but it is for the best. My heart goes out to you in the difficult time.  Please take care.

February 2, 2019

I am hoping this post will help me gain the courage to do the right thing.  I know I need to euthanize my dog but am struggling to pull the trigger. We (my husband and I) have had our dog Wyatt since he was 13 weeks old.  We have raised and loved him.  He has never been abused with us.  He started showing aggression around 11 months old.  At first it was growls and nips and we thought we id'd the correct antecedent to his behavior.  He has allergies and would break out in his inner thighs and gnaw until it became raw.  If we touched it or went near he would snap.  So, we took him to the vet and put him on antibiotic and it cleared itself.  We continue to manage his allergies.  This did not stop the attacks and they seemingly are becoming more aggressive.  He has only ever bit myself and my husband.  However, his anxiety is worsening.  He is high strung on walks, tries to eat cars, does not like any small dog on a leash in our plan, etc.  We have taken him to a reputable training facility, when we go away he stays with a trainer, he has been on several anti-anxiety meds and they only work for a short time.  About 3 weeks ago we were laying on the couch (as we do every night), he flipped on his back and attacked.  We were both laying so he caught my ear and head.  The attack was severe, I should have gone to the ER but refused.  I was a bloody mess and was in shock - shaking and freezing.  Since this we're managing his environment (as we always have) and doing our best to make his life happy.  I struggle imagining life without him, he's my baby, I'm his person.  He's a sweet, sweet boy but we walk on eggshells.  Each time he barks we startle.  It's a horrible way to live.  We have children and they love Wy but we have to keep them completely separate.  This page has helped me learn that this is common and it happens to every dog - big or small.  You all are incredibly courageous and I hope I can be too.  The vet is waiting for my call but man, is it hard.

January 29, 2019

Before choosing to euthanize your dog--which is irreversible and will undoubtedly leave you with a lifetime of guilt and permanent scars on your heart--either seek advice from a prof trainer or check out the following links I have found to be helpful. I believe most dog behavior can be understood and aggression can be eliminated or reduced if you are willing to take the time/go the extra mile. I am not saying it is always possible, but if you truly love your dog it is worth the effort. More info I found...There is a wonderful app for both iOS and Android called DogDecoder, very helpful in learning dog body language. Learning body language can go a very long way in predicting and preventing a potential bite. I would also urge you to familiarize yourself with Patricia McConnell. She is a CAAB and author who has written a host of wonderful books on dog behavior. The top two I would recommend are The Other End of the Leash, and For the Love of a Dog. She also has a pretty fantastic website

January 28, 2019

Sorry this is a long story but I need to talk to people who have dealt with at least kind of similar situations. I have a 2 year old mixed breed dog (German or Australian Shepherd/Blue Heeler/Jack Russell, that I know of.) I have had him since he was a puppy (maybe 6-8 weeks old) and his behavior just seems to be escalating. First he started being aggressive with food, not towards humans (yet) but other dogs and cats. Now I feed him separated from the others, then he started attacking my Basset Hound, now he's snapped at my 10 lb dachshund a couple times, now he sometimes growls at me, and he lunged at a man with a sweet little puppy in the vet office. The biggest problem: He attacks my Basset Hound rescue quite often with no provocation. When we first got the Basset in March of 2018 they got along great. They were like the best of friends but it's like my mixed breed just snapped one day. The attacks will stop for several days and just when you start to think it's safe they start all over again. I try to keep them apart as best I can but sometimes it hasn't been possible. My Basset can be on the chair asleep not even moving besides breathing and suddenly it's a dog fight, I can pet my mixed breed and he'll abruptly get up and get in the Bassets face (who was just sleeping) growling, my girlfriend has been bitten three times trying to separate them. Which may not have been the best idea but when it's happening you kind of panic. Anyway 2 days ago I woke up to them outside in my fenced yard fighting. This was unlike the other times by far, it really looked like he was trying to kill him and they wouldn't stop fighting. I was panicking. Both dogs were covered in blood and panting from exhaustion when I finally got them to stop. There was blood all over my back porch, the fence and the grass. I was mortified. Both dogs are injured. I've kept them separated since but that's honestly not realistic as a long term solution. I've had all kinds of advice: "Put him down", "Chain him up away from the others", "Rehome him." But none of these people have been in a situation like this. I'm just at my wits end. I hate to chain dogs as it's no kind of life, I can't rehome him because obviously if somebody even would take him I would never put someone else and their family at that kind of risk, and to put him down seems like the best solution to me. (My girlfriend disagrees, of course.) If I were to put him down;however, I know I'll always wonder if there was something I could have done and I know that I'll feel guilty (more guilty than I already do because even though this dog has never been in an abusive home I feel as if it's still my fault. I'm one of those save the world types.) I already feel like everybody judges me and blames me for his behavior. I'm just at a loss and Im heartbroken because I can't seem to help him and he's like my baby. He can be so sweet sometimes but he's also very unpredictable. Again, sorry about the length of this. This whole situation is just really breaking my heart..

Phyllis DeGioia
January 23, 2019

Hi Janet, My heart bleeds for you in this situation, and I'm glad your Chihuahua is alright. That unmistakable look you describe is terrifying. It sounds possible that his litter was very poorly bred. I don't know what you can say to your husband to bring him over to your way of thinking. You have done so much for this dog.  You could bring up legal liability, the difficulty in getting home insurance after a dog bite, the guilt of allowing a child to be mauled, the guilt about the death of another beloved pet and associated veterinary bills. I totally understand that some people are in denial about how bad the problem has become. He may not break down his denial until he is the recipient of one of those long, hard stares. One additional thought: I too have been known to physically throw myself into a dog fight to protect my dog. This is a terrible idea and you or I could be very seriously hurt or killed. I understand the instinct all too well, but I hope never to do that again. Please look out for your own safety.

January 23, 2019

As of yesterday, my husband and I are facing the same difficult decision. Our almost 7 yr old 130 lb. mastiff/blood hound mix lunged at and attacked our 7.5 lb female Chihuahua outside in the front yard then turned and started to attack our other 7 lb Chihuahua who was just standing there. I threw myself on top of him and grabbed our female dog only to have to do the same thing for our other Chi. The big dog was so intent on harming them he chased me up the sidewalk all the while trying to snatch one of them out of my arms. No fences, no confined spaces, no trigger or warning. No reason at all. She has a puncture wound in her side and on pain meds and antibiotics. I keep thinking back, what if I had walked back to the house to let my little chi boy inside instead of staying out front with the other 2 dogs? After all it was in the teens and freezing cold. If I wasn't as close to them when the attack started, the outcome could have been so much worse than the puncture wound. Both of our Vets, the staff there and our family/friends have said it's time and we have their full support on this very difficult decision. The history of our big dog has been FULL of health and behavioral issues from the very beginning. He and only 2 sisters survived Parvovirus out of a litter of 12 puppies. When he came to us as a small baby, he was sick with Coccidia. We probably spent the first year of his life going back and forth to the Vets office for illness, medication, tests and treatments. His digestive system was a wreck. He was having mild seizures. The Vet and we decided against putting him on seizure meds because aggressiveness was one of the side effects. We already were having that happen. We cooked his food to make sure he wasn't getting anything that would cause symptoms. Mind you we already had the Chi's  and 3 cats and they all grew up together. Running around in the back yard playing, sleeping and wrestling on the bed, eating side by side. Then right after he turned one year old, he started trying to attack the Chihuahuas - when they walked by him, if they tried to pass him in the hallway or doorway. Then he started lunging at them when they were on the couch or sitting on their beds or in our laps. Next came the aggression towards us when he would get a hold of an object he wasn't supposed to have like the remote, phone or article of clothing. He spent more and more time in his crate. From there we went to baby gates all over the house, trying to keep him separated from the little dogs and cats, making sure our family and visitors were safe. We took him to training, walked him more, took him to the park more, took him to a swimming pool for dogs, after all he was a working dog and needed the activity. Then came the grandchildren which added a whole new level of stress at making sure they were kept away from him. Our big dog got older and seemed to calm down. We knew how to keep him and us safe but we still didn't trust him enough to let him be alone with the babies or small dogs. We avoided the triggers before they happened. Then just recently, I noticed a change in his appearance and behavior. It was like you could see in his eyes something was going on in his head. His face got harder looking and he stared at us and our other small pets. My husband and I had talked about the possibility of having to put him down because of his aggressiveness. Years ago we even tried to return him to the rescue group we adopted him from - they wouldn't take him because his 2 sisters were already returned and unadoptable - so we struggled on out of love and guilt. Now he's harmed one of the little dogs and I believe we could be next. My husband is struggling with it more than I am. After all I was the one that had to deal with the attack yesterday, sit in the vet's office waiting to hear if her injuries were severe - i.e. puncture wound into the body cavity which is a whole other more serious injury and having to call my co-worker all the while balling hysterically about the attack and that I wouldn't be into work. I am afraid - afraid of something worse happening while I wait for my husband to come to grips with "killing his child". Afraid of our big dog biting one of the grandbabies, our elderly parents or other family members or him killing one of the little pets. I am a mother and grandmother and would put myself in front of anything trying to hurt my family. I have always been the one to persuade my husband that it's time for a gentle, loving compassionate end of life for our elderly pets who were suffering from cancer or other old age illnesses. But this time, I am having to do a lot more persuading, backed up with articles and stories of when it's gotten truly horrendous for the family of an aggressive, unpredictable pet and I don't want to be one of those horrible stories. I do love our big dog and our other pets. We've accommodated and lived around his behaviors for 7 yrs but I also love him enough to let him go when it's time. And it's time.

Phyllis DeGioia
January 22, 2019

Dear Jule, I am so sorry to hear of your experience. You have made such effort, more than most people, and I applaud you for everything you have done for your dog.  Veterinary behaviorists know more than trainers and can be a fantastic resource. Do not discount what a veterinary behaviorist can achieve: you just never know, and it might be just the ticket. Or it might not be. It's possible medication may make the difference, and possible that it won't. But you won't know until you try. There's the kind of aggression a dog has because he's been mistreated or abused, and there's the kind that he's born with. Some people are born angrier and more aggressive than others, and that's not different with dogs. Aggression stemming from poor breeding is not the dog owner's fault. We don't know if that's what causing his aggression, but it is more likely than not. So please understand me: you didn't fail, it is not your fault, how it happened is beyond our control, you didn't mess up, you raised him properly, you can't "fix" this on your own, and you did not fail him. No one should live with a dog they're afraid of - I refused to after a while - and a dog the size of a Great Pyr can do serious damage to you or other people and animals. For a person like you to never own a dog again would simply compound this tragedy. I felt that way too, but I don't anymore and am currently enjoying a quiet life with one dog and no other pets. Please keep in touch and let me know what happens with the veterinary behaviorist. My heart is with you.

January 19, 2019

My 10 month old Great Pyrenees started showing signs of aggression at around 3 months old. I got him at 8 weeks. From a back yard breeder. Around 3 months old, he'd growl and snap if I was near him when he had food or a bone. I started the positive training steps that they teach to overcome that. It seemed to work. Things were going great. I felt we overcame the issue and it was behind us. At 4 months, he growled and snapped, and then bit me several times on the hand (I still have the scars). The only thing i can think of is a bone was nearby, but he hadn't been engaged with it. Next day, no issues. I doubled down on the positive training stuff. Life was good. No more issues for several months. Then at 6 months. Same aggression popped up one day. Gone the next. And now, this time, 10 months, it's been a week and a half of him snarling and growling at me randomly. I've lost all trust in him. He scares me. I've raised other dogs with no issues. I've taken classes, read everything I can get my hands on. My last dog earned his CGC. But I can't get a handle on this pup. And now he scares me. We're going to a veterinary Behavorist in 2 weeks. I can't see how it will make any difference. I don't beat the dog, he lives a kush life. He has defined boundaries of behavior, he has exercise, mental stimulation, has been socialized extensively, and in all other respects is a well-behaved 10 month old dog. But, if the behavorist cant change the path we're on, I'm going to have to euthanize him. I feel like I failed, like it's all my fault! I don't understand how this happened. How can I ever trust myself to get another dog again? I don't understand where I messed up. I love dogs, and yet, if I cant figure this out then I don't think I should own a dog again. I hate that I can't fix this. I RAISED this dog. I failed him.

January 14, 2019

I am in the center of this awful situation right now in my house. I am devastated right now with what is going on. My 13 month old rescue dog (lab/pit/chow mix) Archie was laying on the ground and the cat walked up to him only to be bitten without warning in the face. After that 2 attempts at biting my 8lbd dog happened and then he caused a fight with my cattle dog. This was all bad enough but I figured we could train this out of him and kept him at a distance of them when he was eating, playing with a toy or sleeping. Well a little over a week ago my 19 year old daughter was sitting beside him on the ground and he for no reason jumped at her face and bit her. This was aggression on a whole different level. After things calmed down, I once again started looking for a reason for this. We were keeping him in our home office during his mandatory 10 day hold. I couldn't send him to animal control as this dog in my mind was not an aggressive dog. Last Tuesday I got too close and he bit me in the face. He was laying on his bed and I bent down to kiss him because he just looked sad and now I have stitches inside my lip because he bit me. He is on a second 10 day hold and set to be euthanized on Friday. My heart is broken and I feel myself still trying to find a reason and make excuses. Your writing about your experience helps but I can't stop giving reasons to his unpredictability. I am SO SAD but in the same breath, we have other pets that were here first and whose safety is in jeopardy, mention those of us who accidentally get too close to his face when he is in that space and time where he becomes aggressive.

January 9, 2019

This article and comments  has brought me so much peace since 2017. I am finally able to think about my experience without falling into a guilt and sadness crying fit. I had my Staffordshire mix since he day he was born. I’ve always had dogs since I was a child and definitely did not treat him any different than I had ever treated another dog, in fact, I tried to be even better with training to make sure my “pit bull” was well behaved. Bear was actually a super sweet puppy, but the more I look back, the more signs I can start to see, starting with a growl and a snap at a man at Petco when he was 6 months old. Bear nearly killed my moms dog twice, was ultra protective of me, would dominate my nieces and nephews, snapped at one of my nephews, and I would manage. More training and more trainers later... his issues still continued to progress. The final straw was when I let my guard down and was letting him out in the back yard without a leash on and we had company, he was walking to the gate with no issues and then all of a sudden turned towards a neighbors baby completely unprovoked and started charging with teeth bared and a terrible scary growl. Thank god we were able to grab him by his collar in time. I contacted rescues and trainers and he actually was denied by a few trainers due to the unprovoked aggression on a child and the fact “this type of dog would need 10 hours of work a day to manage his behavior” and by all the rescues for the same reason. His vet who had seen him from day 1 agreed it was the most humane and safest thing to do. The day we took him in he was so well behaved, he  didn’t react to any of the dogs in the vetinary office and was a complete love bug to all the staff, it was Heart wrenching as that was the bear I always tried to talk up to defend his bad behavior-so to speak. It changed me, I was scared of pit bulls for awhile after (even though I know it’s not the breed it’s a dog by dog basis) I was scared of big dogs,  I was scared to own another dog because I was convinced it was my fault- that I created his behavior in some way.. I cried and actually felt like a terrible person for killing a healthy 3.5 year old animal for a year but now I realize he wasn’t happy, he couldn’t help it and it was the best thing for him. In a perfect world he would have loved it for it just to be him and I but unfortunately that isn’t the case. I finally got another dog, he is a chocolate Labrador and the differences I have noticed from day one of having him home and of bear is like day and night. He is a mentally healthy animal, I still respect his boundaries and also create a safe spot and rules with children around him because he is still an animal but I don’t live in fear on my walks that he will get away from me and kill a small child or animal, I don’t stress every time I’m in the shower that he’ll somehow get out of the crate and hurt anyone, I don’t live in fear, and neither does bear. When this all happened, this community really helped ease my guilt. I hope my comment can help someone else find comfort.

Alicia Peetz
January 6, 2019

Thank you for this article. I’m not sure how I came across it, something about googling for my guilt of even entertaining the idea of euthanizing my beloved dog, Teddy. I have a young son, 1 1/2 y/o. I’ve had Teddy for 5 years and each year has gotten worse. I’ve always given him free passes when he snaps or bites, but I know the next time will be when he hurts my son. We are in the process of searching for a home for him without children, but I also want his quality of life to be there. Your article is letting me know that it is okay to go down this path. While I’m not totally ready yet, this may be it. Thank you.

January 1, 2019

I’m so glad I came across this article. I have a 2.5 year old Cocker Spaniel that I’ve had since he was 12 weeks old. I got him from an amosh farmer who I later found out was a breeder. When we arrived to pick up our pup, his father growled at us and really was not happy to see us. We brought Sailor home and within a fee weeks the resource guarding became apparent. He would try to bite your hands if you were putting food in the bowl. He growls and shows his teeth every time he eats and if you don’t move away quickly enough he will bite. He has to be fed in a separate room alone and the entire time he growls and snarls. He Is entirely afraid of everything. He chases cars and growls at them, he won’t walk on certain surfaces. Anything that is moved or out of place in our house is growled at and he’a petrified of. I’ve been bitten a dozen times or more. Once on the lip and if I didn’t pull away would have been much worse. He loves pettings, he loves attention, he loves to play. But he will snap with no notice. He will snap over a toy. He can’t have treats or bones period. He is way too aggressive. He has worked with a trainer at home and away at a facility for 3 weeks. No results. He is more aggressive now than ever. I attempted to take him to the park and he almost bit a child wearing a hat because the hat scared him. He has to be kept separate from the family most times. I tried to rehome him. I posted to a local pet advocate and my post was shared over 600 times. But no one could take him. I’m out of options and ideas. Euthanasia has been suggested. But I just don’t know. I’m heartbroken.

December 28, 2018

Amoura-I used to think exactly like you and the thought of euthanizing any of my pets was only necessary when they were in terrible pain. Unfortunately, life isn't always that cut and dry and sometimes the pain our pets experience causes them mental pain.  We had to do the unimaginable last night and have our 4-year-old Australian Shepard mix put to sleep.  After living with attacks on my husband, myself and our other dog that sent us to urgent care and the emergency room countless times despite working with 4 different trainers/behaviorists and our vet.  Putting him on medication (which seemed to calm things down for a year) he started attacking again and we never knew when or why.  The smallest noise, a hug, or walking into a room could set him off.  We felt we had no choice and I'm heartbroken. Thank you for writing this article Phyllis and to all of those who shared their stories.  It gives some comfort to know that we were not alone.  I hope the pain, grief and guilt will ease someday. I don't know if I'll ever find peace with having to have made that decision.

Marnie Prange
December 25, 2018

Thank you for your thoughtful and moving article. I will be euthanizing a ten-year-old shelter dog who has bitten four people on the face in the three months he's been my companion. I understand that his behavior has triggers that likely were the result of trauma in his first home, but I share your feeling that is it morally repugnant for me to put others at risk by keeping him or by trying to rehome him. I will scatter his ashes over the horse pasture where we loved to roam and hunt voles. Even though we never captured one, we both loved the effort.

December 17, 2018

Euthanizing is not always the right thing to do.For example we have counseling maybe we can start counseling for them. Thats sad how you euthanized the dog. You only euthanize a dog that is in pain.I cant imgine ding that to my dog only if it was in pain.

Jenny C
December 15, 2018

This article is so comforting to me. I made the decision to have my gorgeous 'fur baby' put to sleep 3 weeks ago. It has been the worst time of my life. He was so loving, energetic & intelligent but had showed signs of aggression as a small puppy. I sought advice from a behavourist and attended puppy classes then further classes. He was well socialised and lived in a busy household, he was loved and exercised greatly as I love walking. So why oh why was my boy so unpredictable ? I keep beating myself up over what I could have done to have prevented his random attacks. He had bitten my husband several times, my father, my son's, and attacked various visitors to out home, I knew I had to do something but I tried 'to manage' him for months. It became so stressful - my boys used to call down asking 'where is Buster' before they came downstairs in fear of being attacked, my eldest would phone from outside to see if it was safe to enter our home. It sounds so outrageous that I made my family live like this for so long now I am writing it. I suppose they put up with it as we all loved the sweet Buster that he was most of the time so tolerated the vicious side of him. I'll never lose this heartache I feel but I can now relax and not panic everytime someone wants to visit. I've still got many happy memories of my much longed for doggy but it was not meant to be. He is in his favourite place now happy and no longer anxious at the top of the field where he loved to chase squirrels. I know I will never have another dog - I could not put myself through this again. My love for him is all consuming.

Phyllis DeGioia
December 11, 2018

Robin, Knowing it was the right thing to do doesn't make it easy. Sometimes doing the right thing is much, much harder than not doing it. I hope that your next dog is a perfect temperament and everything you want in a family dog. My heart is with you.

Robin Gregg
December 11, 2018

We had to euthanize our beautiful boy yesterday.  It was a heart wrenching horrible day for all of us. My husband, and four of our children were there to say good-bye to Oliver. We never dreamed this would be necessary, but the night before he bit my Son, and caused enough damage for a hospital visit, and stitches to his right hand.  I am in tears as I sit at my desk at work and type this.I know we've made the right decision, but doesn't make it any easier whatsoever. I feel so empty, and so so sad, it's almost unbearable.

December 11, 2018

I really amn’t positively sure if talking to somebody like a counselor or you about my fur daughter who could’ve been a dangerous protective of me being secretly euthanized few months after I got out of physical rehab.

Phyllis DeGioia
December 10, 2018

Hi Laurie, I think rehoming him is not going to change his biting tendencies, and the stress of it will only make him more aggressive. By my count, that's four attacks to children in 7 months, correct? And he snaps at you, which will eventually turn into bites. He was bred with no regard for temperament or health, as all puppy mills care about is their income. Choosing euthanasia over rehoming is not only not selfish, but speaks with a voice more concerned for human safety than anything else. He is a walking lawsuit waiting to happen, and he is likely miserable. You can try working with a veterinary behaviorist, if it's possible, and try medication; however, it seems you are at your wit's end and are already walking on egg shells, and I understand that. No one should live with a dog they are afraid of. I am always heartbroken that puppy mills sell mixed breed puppies in addition to purebreds. There is no end to the negatives that uncaring commercial breeders cause. I wish you luck, and please know my heart is with you.

December 9, 2018

I’m hoping someone out there will help me with the most difficult decision I have to make in putting my 9 month old dog down. First a bit of history. He is a puppy mill dog I adopted. I didn’t know it until I got there but was so upset at leaving him in that situation, I knew I could give home a good home. He bit my Granddaughter in the face tonight. He’s tried to attack my 2yo grandson and has bitten my friends son twice, he loves my granddaughter, she’s the only one of the kids he’s never bitten. But he has caused injury to her face. If I try to move home over in bed he snaps at me as well. I’m heartbroken. But I cannot stand the anguish and worry of trying to re-home him. I have decided he would be better off not to be put through that as well as me, is that selfish?? What should I do. He is a corgi mix, not that it matters.... sincerely, heartbroken

December 3, 2018

Thank you for writing about this topic. It has only been 1 week since I had to out my young dog down at 2 years. I was walking on egg shells 24x7. I could not have visitors, grooming appointments were far and few. Vet appointments were a struggle, could dare not get near him eating.  Feared if he ever got loose, what he would do to someone. He has bit 10 times, but the last one was the worst. The aggressiveness was getting worse. We feel like we failed this little guy. All the training, vets, etc, could not change his behavior. It’s sucks the pain we have to live with.  I know the breeder failed to disclose temperament.

Paige J
November 30, 2018

I found this via Patricia McConnell's wonderful post on euthanizing dangerous dogs. I'm putting one of my foster dogs down tomorrow because he's too dangerous to adopt or stay with me. I've had him for 11 months and we've gone through all of the options with little change. Like with everyone else, his poor little brain is broken. It's not his fault, I blame his first owners who likely abandoned him to the streets. Our rescue found him as a stray. He is the sweetest, derpiest, most loving dog you'll ever meet. He greets strangers with the biggest smile and loves to nurse his purple blankie. He always does his chores, and by that I mean he loves to fling the broom and mop around. But, he gets over-aroused and frustrated and bites us. He's damaged one of my fingers and my foot, along with many other less damaging bites one my arms and legs. He has no bite inhibition and that's likely to never change. I am wrenched open by this decision even though I know it's the right one. When their bodies are broken we don't hesitate to relieve their suffering. Why does it feel different because it's his brain? I will miss him so much. Luckily I have a ridiculous amount of videos of him that I can laugh at later.

November 14, 2018

I’m so grateful for the many stories that are giving me some comfort in the wake of euthanizing our pup last week, to share in the universality of the pain, guilt, shame that this terrible decision inflicts on us. My story is long and I’m sorry for that; therapy of a sort, I guess. Maybe some of you will find comfort in the similarities. I first read this article nearly two years ago when I first seriously contemplated putting our rescue Solo to sleep. His aggression had escalated to attacking his best pal, another rescue he had known and lived with more than a decade. It is what gave me the courage to follow through on this decision two years later, and is helping me as I struggle with the clawing agony of self-doubt, grief and the ringing absence of our Bubba-boy. It’s helping me ride out the waves of nausea and aching loss, the crazed desire to take it all back no matter the cost. It gives me hope I might one day find peace with it, though the regret may never fade. My partner and I first took Solo in as a young dog of not quite 2 years old while living in Costa Rica, along with another rescue, Luna, his constant companion. He was a mutt, maybe a Doberman-lab mix, sleek and gangly. Someone had tried to make him look the part of a fierce Doberman, mangling his ears into lumpy, scarred messes and docking his tail to the 2nd vertebrae. For the rest of his life he would be attacked by other dogs who could not read his body language from these amputated parts. He was incredibly sensitive, people-oriented, energetic and intelligent. The kind of dog that would do anything for affection and praise. The kind of dog that, given the right start in life, becomes the best damn dog ever. But he had a rough start, was abused, neglected and starved. His sensitivity turned to fear. Noises especially, but anything really. Coming from a street dog’s life of roaming free, he was incredibly prey-driven, harassing cows and horses, trying to kill (sometimes succeeding) chickens, feral cats, monkeys, armadillos, etc etc! We tried to train him, walked him on leash, taught him to accept our cats as family members. After multiple attacks by other dogs, he learned the value of a good offense. By the time we moved to Canada he was becoming increasingly leash aggressive. It took all my strength to hold him when he freaked out at other dogs. Twice he bit me and my partner in a blind rage at another dog, and we learned to drop the leash if a loose dog got too close. Walks became a nightmare and we started planning our routes and timing carefully to avoid encounters. There were a couple more people biting incidents over the years that seemed understandably provoked but we took no chances. We muzzled him around kids and on hikes in the back hills so we could let him run without fear of hurting wildlife, dogs or people. We carefully managed all interactions when people came over. We took him to aggressive dog training and worked hard to overcome his hyper focus on other dogs. We made progress, but he continued to suffer setbacks from off-leash dogs on our daily walks. We built our lives around his needs and triggers, rarely going anywhere overnight because it was so difficult to ask someone to look after him. The stress was huge. We were always afraid he would kill a neighbourhood cat in our yard, or bite a delivery person who came unexpectedly onto the property. It was constant management and exhausting. We made sure to get him out on at least one long hike each week to “get his beans out” but it never felt like enough for his high energy and he never stopped being afraid – not just of storms and fireworks but also bird chirps, appliance beeps, snowmen, shadows…It was a scary world for our bubble boy, and no amount of cuddles, thundershirts or rescue remedy could soothe him. We also lived in fear - that Solo would hurt someone and spend his last days alone, terrified, that we would be responsible for a serious injury, liable to boot. It was a game of diminishing returns. Our quality of life eroded and so did his. Despite this, he was 95% of the time a goofy, loving creature, always up for an adventure, always ecstatic to see his people. Just that damned 5%. A couple of years ago he started attacking his best pal Luna with no discernible trigger. I got pregnant and worried what it would mean to have a baby in the house, with high-pitched shrieks, unpredictable movements and grabby hands. I considered euthanasia for the first time. But my partner wanted us to be sure we had tried everything. Full medical workup, some Metacam for onset arthritis, pheromone spray, anti-anxiolytic, dog behaviourist, new tricks to try, redoubling our efforts. The attacks continued. Then our baby was born and it was all we could do to keep up. We put up a gate across the middle of our open plan downstairs and the dogs lived on one side, the baby and I on the other. The last attack on Luna two weeks ago tore open her cheek. The baby was walking at that point, often reaching for the dogs through the gates. I was so tired and fearful of making a mistake that would put the baby in danger. I did make mistakes. Thankfully nothing happened, but it felt like it was only a matter of time. Luna was petrified, we were all walking on eggshells and nothing left to try. Solo and Luna were my first dogs and neither of us knew how to deal with abused animals. We could have done more. Better. Maybe we even made it worse. Our inexperience haunts me. His life would have been short and brutal had we not taken him in, and in our 10 years with him there was a lot of joy and love. But it was not his best possible life, and we all suffered for it. When I put down my 21 year old cat Cleo, I knew it was time. My grief was tempered by overwhelming love and compassion. This was my last gift to her. With Solo there was no certainty. We felt trapped, helpless, defeated. I felt like we were just waiting for an incident so awful, so clear that the decision would be unquestionable; but that felt untenable. Irresponsible. We had a chance to prevent a tragedy that surely would have ended Solo’s life anyhow, and he might have met his end in circumstances that were far from gentle, without the love I was able to pour into him the last week of his life. How could we let that happen? And yet, that is the rational mind’s perspective. The heart does not feel that future anger, that sharp clarity born of horror. So we did the right thing and it feels anything but right. The ugliness of what we’ve done sits like a toad on my chest. We stilled his heart, his beautiful, strong, loving heart. He was almost 12 but still so vital. Though it was a peaceful passing, without fear, there was and is no escaping the fact that we were killing him. Out of necessity, sure: tragically, reluctantly, stilling a beating heart. It is our failure, our betrayal, our selfishness as well as our kindness and responsibility. I can’t square those two aspects. The ugliness of it magnifies the grief of his absence. It is, by far, the worst decision I’ve ever made. I still see no way we could have done it differently and that doesn’t lessen the awfulness of it at all. I can only hope that with time I will find my love shines brighter than this terrible darkness and I can remember Solo - our Bubba, Bubble-boy, party boy, the Dobbins - our sweet Solo boy - and the joy of him. I will think of him running tirelessly along the beach chasing vultures and finally taking wing.

John Luce
October 23, 2018

In the back of my mind there is a part of me that is holding on that we can still fix our 4 year old Golden Retriever, "Reggie". I have come to love this dog with all my heart even though he has really put us through some emotional turmoil. First we discovered Bi-lateral hip dysplasia, so a Total Hip Replacement was performed at about 1 year of age. As a puppy though I noticed some slight aggression then outright dog fights with my sons golden, sending his golden to the vet for stitches and my grandson to the ER when he tried to break the fight up. We wrote that off as just something that happened and didn't worry too much about it. Then the second dog fight with my son's golden when he expectantly came into our house thru the doggie door, the traumatized my wife as she is scared of dogs anyways but the attack was aggressive and non stop, even though my sons golden submitted immediately my golden kept after him, it was vicious. There were too many times to count of "I was just petting him and he snapped" There were many times when he would come to me for some loving only to end up growling and snapping when you reach or after a few petting strokes. The day he charged me when I entered a dog pen where I had just given him a new bone was when we asked our vet for a professional veterinarian behaviorist. We had gone through a host of local trainers  already. So we started on the positive reinforcement regimind with prescribed drugs.  We thought it was helping and it was for a time. But there was more growling and snapping and two viscous attacks on his sister . The drugs he was on were changed and it seems now we are losing our golden even more.  Our only border/trainer that can handle him when we need to leave town has just declined to watch him any further after he bared his teeth and growled at her after willingly and happily going into his cage. I have separated our dogs at home inside the house and this morning in the very early morning hours I usually spend with him, he came to me and flipped over so I would scratch his belly, after a few scratches he sprung to his feet,growled turned around and growled at me to the point I was starting to get worried, I remained calmed and flipped him by saying "cm-on lets go outside". So here I am contemplating putting down, this is my friend that walks in the woods with me, who swims next to my canoe, who has enjoyed life with me and I know he loves me BUT something is wrong with him. I know the right thing is to put him to sleep but this is so incredibly hard.

October 15, 2018

I got my dog when she was 10 weeks old, she had been rescued at 5 weeks along with 9 litter mates. She had parvo when she was rescued,  she had chemical burns all over hrr head and back. When she went into heat at 6 months something snapped and she became very agressive to our other dog (at 120#, 9 yr old Rottweiler). In the past 5 years since she snapped I have worked with a behaviorist, tried meds, used a crate, separated her from company, etc. Nothing has really stopped the behaviors, simply managed them slightly, because it is something wrong with her brain not a lack of intelligence or training. Over time we had to put the Rottie down due to age. Our rescue dog seemed to take it in stride and calmed down until the day she turned agressive to me. She has bit me multiple times, once needing stitches. She growls periodically when being put into her crate, she is very fearful of the strangest things (cardboard boxes and wrapping paper being the oddest). She barks all the time. She recently snapped in my 5 year old's face causing scratches but no bleeding wound. 7 days ago she bit my 12 year old in the chin because she startled her (again, no stitches, thank God!). We have decided it is time to put her down. She is clearly a danger and her anxiety has not only our family but the dog herself living in fear all the time. It is heartbreaking for sure! Our vet actually asked if I would like to try working with the behaviorist again or rehome her with a rescue but I feel her behaviors would be too dangerous for someone that doesn't know her aggressive signs.

Kimmy Hiltunen
October 2, 2018

Thank you so much for article.  I believe God gives us these challenges to help others going through it. We rescued a 8 month old puppy so he wouldn't get put down for his aggressive biting.  We got him neutered, put him on meds,all in hopes he would calm down.  We got him after we lost or buddy (yellow lab) of ten years to cancer.  I thought buddy was so perfect maybe we could train Romeo.  It's been a little over a year, he's still a aggressive biter.  He's drawn blood on three of us and today I had to go to urgent care because of him. It kills me case he's so loving most of the time but he snaps like jeckl and hide.  You are a blessing.  I've thought of giving him away, a shelter etc.  But you're right, I can't have him hurt anyone else.  I never thought about it that he's suffering of issues that I haven't been able to fix.  I've been crying for a long time fighting with myself with all the same thoughts you've been through.  These other people just don't get it unless it happens to them.  After reading this, it makes our decision less heart breaking, though still leaving a huge hole in my heart.  Thank you, for helping me realize I'm not the only one.  God bless

Brody's Heartbroken Mom
September 11, 2018

We are at wits end. We have a 15 mo Border Collie/Australian cattle dog mix.neutered. He's about 50-55 pounds. We rescued him at about 4 months old. Over the last 10 months, he has bit 6 people, breaking the skin. One was our elderly neighbor who came to the door, another our 3 year old granddaughter. The third was our neighbor, on our deck. The 4th was our 11 year old neighbor who was used to walking in the house without knocking. The 5th was me, I was putting him out on the runner in the back yard and he didn't want to, so he bit me in the arm. The most recent was a friend, we were having a small party and I had him on the leash. She considers herself a dog person, and after several warnings not to try to pet him, she touched his back and he turned around and bit her hand, a very bad bite that should have been stitched up, but she declined, until a week later she had to go to ER for antibiotics. The hospital reports the bite to animal control. Our granddaughter went to the ER and was put on antibiotics and the town was notified of the bite. He was quarantined. He is so fearful and anxious almost 24 hours a day. He has 3 types of biting behavior. He nips at me, my elbow, my legs, my hands everyday, several times a day, almost as a greeting. He nips and bites our older female dog Lilly just literally constantly, she is depressed and has many scars, mostly her ears and face. The kind of biting he does to little kids is a deep herding instinct. He bit our granddaughter in the back of her leg as she was walking away, and then again on her arm as she was jumping up and down, while I was sitting on the floor with both of them. He circles her and stalks her when she comes to visit, like a sheep. The third type of biting is the most dangerous, he lunges at people and dogs who come in the house, while we are out walking, etc. He is super super nervous and this is a reaction. After he bit our granddaughter, my husband brought him to therapy training, like how to calm him when things startle him, he had 4 sessions. We also had 2 in home sessions with a trainer, and there had been some improvement, but not long lasting. We have taken him to the vet for a full work up to rule out anything medical. We have spoken with a behaviorist at length on the phone and she made the exact recommendations you did with Jackson. They are just not feasible, like Jacksons family, we have kids in and out of the house, in and out of the yard, etc. He does get out sometimes by slipping out he door. He is so smart and so fast. There are kids and dogs all over the neighborhood. We are now on a 4 month waiting list for Tufts behavioral appointment, which we know we won't make it to. We know what we have to do, but it is absolutely torturous to think about actually doing it.

Shari Zindler
September 7, 2018

Whew.....I can barely express how appreciative I am of your article, plus how sad I feel.  While I do not have to euthanize my beloved dog, I am surrendering him to a rescue/trainer that will try to rehab him, then re-adopt him.  The guilt and failure I feel is unbelievable. And I still love this dog, even though he is hard to manage and we are all walking on eggshells.  He bit me on the arm, 2 weeks ago, level 3 -4 bit, ended up in ER to have it checked.  I was brushing him.  He has snapped and tried to bite many times since. We are all a bit scared, have worked with a trainer, and just can't live like this anymore.  I believe he had these issues before we got him, but the previous owner was not honest.  I am so mad about that.  This dog was our first dog as a family, and it the whole situation has divided us and been hard on my marriage. So, he has to go. Even though I still love him dearly.  It is so hard.  Thank you for putting into words some of what I am feeling.  Bless you.

September 5, 2018

Thank you for your story and your personal struggle.  As I sit here and write this next to my loving bullmastiff Clooney who was adopted through a large breed rescue.  He’s our 2nd bullmastiff rescue. Both have been “broken” souls. Our first  Magnum was dog reactive so we managed that behavior the 6yrs we had him. He also did not like you coming to him, rather him coming to you. We managed that behavior too. He passed peacefully from MCT cancer.  We were relieved when his time was dertermined for him through his cancer prognosis. Now we have Clooney. Healthy boy at 140#. Found starving on the streets of OK. His foster Mom discovered he had an adversion to men. We adopted him regardless. Probably a mistake. However he is very very loving to my husband and I. Sleeps in our bed, protects our home and greets us with a wiggly butt everyday when we come home. But he has that dark side. He is extremely reactive to anyone who approaches our home. Scares the cr@p out of any delivery person and quite frankly we feel he will someday bust through our glass door. Then there’s the lunging. He will lunge at any male that comes anywhere near him. He’s made contact with a carpet installers arm, my sisters hand (though not breaking skin on either) and then the recent more concerning episode. He lunged at my husband through a screen door. He must not have recognized him tho he should have smelled him or recognized his voice. Regardless if my husband hadn’t been holding the screen from the other side we don’t know what would have happened but we guess it wouldn’t have been good. So as I sit here listening to our boy snoring peacefully next to me, we have THAT decision to come to. Because he is a stray rescued we do not know his age for certain but guess he’s about 7-8yrs. He has no other types of aggressive behavior although what he does have is quite enough. We Muzzle him at the vet and have him access through side doors to minimize contact. So why would we have this option to euthanize him even on the table?  Because he’s a 140# unpredictable liability. We’ve managed his behavior for 2yrs but it’s escalating. I have been on the other side of this breeds strength and know what they can do.  Our first bully Magnum pulled me down while on his leash and drug me about a foot through a gravel parking lot. He didn’t mean to. He was excited to see his Daddy. I would hate for anyone including myself or my husband to be a victim of his fear based reactivity. It’s possible his eyesight is deteriorating and is the primary cause. That is something we can’t change. Sure there are those stories of dogs that live blind with other heightened senses and are able to manage. This is not one of THOSE dogs. He’s a strong boy that is defensive and reactive. So this is where we are at. We see his vet in about a week. I am very emotionally prepared to let him go. Even as attached as we are. I struggle with “playing God” with this beautiful creatures life but we cannot train this out of him and we cannot risk what injury he is capable of inflicting under the wrong circumstances.

Valerie Rizzo
September 5, 2018

I have been crying for 3 days.... today we set the date to euthanize my girl. I felt so lost an alone in this, but reading everyone elses comments I know j am not. It is such an unbelievable hurt to do this but I know its what's right. Thank you for this article, thank you for these comments.

Paul Minard
August 23, 2018

My sister is putting down her 3rd St. Bernard in two days. This one (1 1/2 years old) had severe anxiety and separation issues as well as escalating violence because of that. It's not a decision she came to lightly; there were months of different vets, trainers, drug regimens, aromatherapy, diet changes, and lots of love. But when the dog enters that 'fugue' state, all things go out the window. So she discussed it with me & both of us agreed it was for the best, for all of us. Her first dog had to be put down because like many big dogs it developed severe nerve problems in her knees and the only treatment would have cost $5,000 per leg; she just didn't have that kind of money. The second dog, though, was perfect. Friendly, smart, well behaved - we loved her & she loved us back. Until she had gone in for a simple procedure and died from the anaesthetic. it turns out she was a walking time bomb - a rare condition called micro hepatica, where the liver does not start its normal growth after birth. So while she received the normal dose for a 2.5 year old, 140-lb dog, it was being processed by the liver of a puppy. My point on all this is that we are seeing the results now of a century of over- and inbreeding of these animals. 'Puebred' means that the dog has come from 'pure' St. Bernard stock, usually  their mother's uncle, cousin, or even brother. We don't allow it in humans for these reasons, why do we allow it for our pets? I'll miss our little puppy, as I miss all of them. I'm one of those people who gets along with every dog he meets & was fortunate to not see these aggressive acts but I can make the distinction between a loving pet and a problem animal and at a certain point, they're livestock. Most farmers know what to do with an animal that gets out of hand and we can't forget that's what they are, underneath the monogrammed collar and adorable eyes. Strength to you, and peace to your house.

Victoria Reeve
August 20, 2018

Thank you. I'd say it a thousand times, but that would be weird. But I will say it again. Thank you. Thank you for easing my suffering and self-doubt. Wishing you all the best, Victoria

Mao Fuimaono
June 27, 2018

Although your article was a little lengthy it was very informative and for me who recently euthanized a beloved pet it was needful. Even though my situation was a little different my dog was a little on the aggressive side. She bit very few but never drew blood and only snapped at our family if she was picked up inconsiderately. Where I drew my compassion for you was how deeply you missed Dodger. Totally related to your deep remorse and sorrow I also experienced and going through even as I write. Only been about a month but my wife and I still weep in remembering her. I so relate to every experience of grief you mentioned but I am also encouraged in the healing updates. I also wanted to share an experience of a friend's dog I was familiar with lunging at my face. His young kids were also snapped at without warning for quite some time. He later found out from the Vet that the dog had a toothpick sized wood splinter lodged on top of his head where everyone usually pet him. Anyway, thanks. It was a blessing to read. I wish you well, thank you.

LaVerne Manzanares
June 26, 2018

Thank you to everyone that has shared their story of the gut wrenching decision to euthanize their pet. I have a male Wheaten Terrier that we got for my daughter twelve years ago. He was the cutest dog we'd ever seen and was sweet and loving for about the first five years. These last seven years Benji has bitten many times. Never severe bites, but bites nonetheless. Two weeks ago he bit my daughter twice as she went to say goodbye to him, tonight he bit her boyfriend and got in a very ugly fight with our other dog, that outweighs him by forty pounds. He's always been good with me, but I am very afraid that his next bite will be the one that gets us into trouble. I am trying to make peace with the decision, but it's still very hard and sad to know that my "boy" will no longer run to greet me, and do his dance until he gets his treat. Thank you for providing this platform, as a place to share such a difficult decision.

June 23, 2018

This is a follow-up on my post from June 20th. We took our dog to the vet to be euthanized on June 21st. He started out calm with the vet, way calmer than normal, normally he needs muzzled but not today, he was friendly, happy, was killing me. Then all the sudden, he attacked, he got the vet tech (who he had previously been happily shaking for cookies from) when she stood, he went after her. The vet took his leash to protect the vet tech and he attacked the vet. I felt bad for them, but was grateful for the assurance. We loved him fiercely and sacrificed much to give our Roscoe a happy life. We are heartbroken but convinced we made the right choice. Since we put Roscoe down our home has been VERY different, Roscoe was constantly barking at everything, he was a high alert dog. Dante, our other dog, seems more relaxed and more sure of himself. Our 4-year-old son doesn't seem to mind at all. My husband and I are still sad, for him it's guilt, for me it's the silence, but we both agree that our home is more peaceful and now that we're a couple days separated it's easier to see the way we worked our lives around Roscoe...not have guests over, meeting delivery people in the driveway. Actually, when I told my neighbors that we had Roscoe put down, they disclosed to me that Roscoe had bitten them, they didn't want to say anything, because they came onto our property and felt it was there fault, but still, it makes me wonder how many other stories are out there. We will always love the happy times, but there's a certain freedom and relief I feel. I actually WANT to have ppl over. I always chocked it up to me being an introvert and now I realize it' because I was afraid of/overwhelmed by Roscoe.

Tiffany Raeburn
June 20, 2018

Our dog was rescued 7 years ago at a year old, he's always been growly. He's bitten several times, 2x enough to break the skin but we always found a way to justify it. Last Friday, he bit my husband and my husband needed stitches. Tomorrow, our dog will be put down, I'm  heartbroken.

June 18, 2018

Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I have been having a similar one and am on the cusp of the same ending. You articulated every relevant point and helped me to solidify and feel peaceful about this seemingly awful desicion. Why does responsibility have to hurt so bad? Seeing your updates give me hope for the future and I wish you continued growth and well being! Thank you again!

June 9, 2018

I'm so grateful for your article and for the 901 people who took time to share their experiences.  My little Murphy is being put down this coming Wed; 6 weeks after he again bit me. This time he wouldn't let go and I had trouble getting my hand out of his mouth.  As I finally freed myself, he immediately bit down again.  It's like he goes into a frenzy and I don't think he even knows where he is or whom he is biting.  The rest of the time he's a loving dog who likes his belly rubbed while I cradle him like a baby.  It's as if there is something in his brain that goes off and he loses all control.  I feel like a failure.  I got Murphy as a rescue two years ago and was told he was a fear biter but I've successfully worked with fear biters and Murphy's behavior is much different.  It's especially hard when others are suggesting I send him to rescue or some other idiot suggestion that only causes stress for Murphy and puts others at risk.

June 7, 2018

Thank you for openly discussing this issue, on so many different levels. Years later and this article is still touching hearts.

Anita Szabo
June 7, 2018

man o man.. I am happy I read your article, it softens the reality of what I may do today. I have a 160 Male Komondor from Hungary. he is very aggressive and that was ok we handle it until He attacked my old american bull dog and drew blood. Then a year later he attack my husband and drew blood .. lastly yesterday Unprovoked for the third time in three years he attacked me and growled over my body as I turned into the couch for protection.  ( I was laying on the couch he came right up to me and I patted him on the head and boom I saw teeth coming at my face. My arms went up as I rolled into the couch. He got both my wrists. left three puncture wounds and thank God My hub was there .. he was able to contain him w a muzzle and released him outside on our 31 acre fenced in property.. where he barked at the wild life all night - this am w a heavy heart I am trying to figure out my options.. and there is two to put him down or leave him outside to do his job.. to be a protector of our farm. I carry a horse whip me now when I went out for my morning chores , and he happily bounced along my side - as soon as i came in the house he tried to get to the door before me .. I guided him away w the whip. and came in to try to figure out what was I going to do.. and then I read your article. My hubby will be so hurt if we put him down .. I just dont know if we should give him one more chance.. ( He is high anxiety in small quarters) but when he is out side he is much less aggressive. I feel like he deserves the chance but I sure dont want to be attacked again either!!
thanks for listening.

May 29, 2018

Thank you so much for the article.  I was on the fence-common sense saying it is the right decision,the heart not quite as sure. Mine is a rescue-former trunking victim, who has been  with me 6 years. She was doing well until the house got ransacked and they flipped the mattress on her,  trapping her. Her anxiety episodes increased and now we have 2 unprovoked bites. I see the sweetness she is and how she tries, but I also see her fear and anxiety escalating and I am scared the next bite may be horrid or could involve a child and I know that I can't let that happen. Thank you for the insight and wonderful article on such a difficult subject.

May 27, 2018

Thank you for this article. My husband and I are being put through this as well. Our Great Pyrenees has been getting steadily more territorial since we moved two years ago. He bit our son without warning just before this past Christmas; he was 8 months old and now has a scar on his face. We tried to mitigate with gates to keep them apart and it worked. But today he bit the 9 year old son of a visiting friend. This was unprovoked and there was no warning. Fortunately the bite was significantly less severe but that was the final straw. Our GP has always been a loving member of our family and used to be so good with kids. The trust is shattered and, like you put it, our souls are scorched. My husband wants to lock him in the field with our livestock but the dog was never truly trained to be a livestock guardian. I think it may be time to say goodbye and hold onto the good memories of the fluffy goofball rather than risk another attack on a human.

May 22, 2018

I have tears as I'm reading your story. We are going through the same thing now and the guilt and sadness we feel is like nothing before. We feel like we didn't try hard enough and have failed our dog, questioning where did it go wrong. Are we bad owners? Our shepherd is so protective and loving towards our family, but she takes territorial to the next level. We have had multiple incidents including a child and were also told by a trainer that once a bite happens, you can not be sure it won't happen again. With kids in the house and play mates always over, it becomes too much of a risk. We have been "lucky' as there have been no serious damages, but the idea that it could happen is terrifying. There is a chance she can go back to the breeder and live. But if not, euthanasia will be our next option. I am wondering how to tell the kids if that is the road we have to take. I do not think they need to know, (ages 6 and 9) but my husband says we should be honest. I would like your opinion.

Teresa L Harman
May 21, 2018

As I'm reading this I'm crying, we are going through this same thing right now. After finding your article, I know what we must do. Our beloved boy sent my husband to the ER where he got 22 stitches around his eyebrow and above his eye. I can't imagine your pain...thank you for having the guts to write this and help other people. Today you answered my prayers....the hard way, but deep down it's the right and responsible thing to do. He's getting more aggressive with family members and we have a teen as well as two other dogs. Thank you for helping me....

May 20, 2018

I am currently contemplating this for my dog. Pippin is a Gordon Setter and Border Collie mix, approximately 3 1/2 years old, lots of energy, and lots of hair! We adopted him from a local humane shelter several years ago. We were given a "sugar coated" version of his life story, but from what I read between the lines, the original family who had him first said he needed to be put down. Pippin is always on alert, is wary and nervous of strangers, and does not do well when on the leash. (He guards his people big time.) We met him off leash, and he was playing with another dog so we thought they were just being cautious when they said he has "some leash aggression." We have worked with a trainer with him for almost two years now, and he's currently taking doggie prozac, but I don't see much of a difference. This sweet dog has taken over our life. We are on edge when we take him for walks for fear he will freak out and scare other people, not to mention what if he somehow gets away from us?? He is unpredictable. The vets have told us there's nothing wrong with him physically, but he pees inside way too often. We live on the second floor of an apartment building, so taking him out to pee every two hours is not the most easy thing, especially since we work! He has to spend a lot of time in his crate each day, which makes me feel guilty. We're at our wits end. Pippin has never bitten anyone, due to both our use with the muzzle and also rarely having him come near enough another person for it to be an issue. He seems like the sweetest dog once he gets to know you, and we just love him so much. But this option, once something I would refuse to think about at all, is starting to come up more and more. Our lives are stress-filled and guilt-ridden. :*( This is a difficult topic, but thank you for your clear and compassionate unfolding of it.

May 17, 2018

Thank you for this. Our story is very similar. Our rescue Frank was always pretty tense, but we thought with Trainings, work-ups, and mental/physical stimulation things would get better. They only got worse. The attacks were unprovoked. My whole family is so sad, especially for our other dog, who has bonded so quickly with Frank since we got him in February. Again, thank you. This actualy is giving me some peace.

Phyllis DeGioia
May 15, 2018

Patti, I understand the broken heart all too well. It's a life-changing decision, that's for sure. Please take care of yourself.

Patti K
May 13, 2018

Until yesterday, we had two gorgeous Wheaten Terriers. We made the gut-wrenching decision to put down Dudley, due to increasing incidents of aggression. My heart is raw. I’ve never felt such guilt and sadness, and I’ve had several animals in my life over the years who we lovingly chose to euthanize due to advanced age related illness. Dudley was only 6. He was a gorgeous dog, full of energy and always on patrol at our large front window. We got him when he was a about 12 weeks old, my daughter saw him on a rescue website and we had been thinking about getting another Wheaten sibling for our other Wheaten, Riley. She was 5 at the time. So, we did it, drove to a couple in Maryland who only had him for a couple weeks and thought the husband had an allergy. They got him from a pet store, and provided us with the only paperwork they had. We deducted that he was born in a Missouri puppy mill, which is where I think the behavior issues stem from. He was the most adorable pup! Was a great addition to the family and a companion for our other Wheaten. At about a year or so old, Dudley started to compulsively lick at his paws. He did this several times until they were raw. So to keep him from licking and let them heal, we put him in a cone quite often. He initially didn’t mind, but eventually gave a minor growl as we put it on. That was the first of the growling. Months and a couple years later, the incidents of growling at us got more frequent. There were a few obvious triggers, such as when he was on our bed, or when he was at the big window and you got in his face. So we corrected our behavior as much as possible, kept him off the bed, etc. Still, the growling escalated. But that was all it was, growling, and he’d go away from us on his own and go lay somewhere else. Then eventually the growling led to teeth showing and lip curling. This happened over a period of a few years, it has only been the past 6 months or so that he graduated to snapping and ultiimately biting. We did all we could. Had two trainers help us and give their opinions and suggestions, started him on Prozac last October. We thought that was helping, but I think it was temporary. The decision to humanely end Dudley’s life came two nights ago, when he lunged at me and bit my forearm several times, breaking the skin in several places. I was sitting on the couch, he was next to me on the floor. I saw his leg flailing like was halving a dream. So in a soft voice I said, “Dudley, are you dreaming?” I saw his eyes open, so I thought he was awake. I reached down and barelly touched his thigh, and he hopped up and lunged at me, teeth bared and bit down on my arm, which I raised to protect my face. When I was able to stand up he retreated slightly, still very agitated, and followed me wherever I went in the room. I was so afraid and so confused why the dog that I know loves me would go after me like this! We’ve always suspected Dudley had a few “wires crossed” due to his puppy mill genetics. We dealt with the growling, even when it escalated to lip curling and snarling, we dealt with it by keeping him very close when people entered our house, or sending him to grandmom’s when we wanted to have company. He still had many incidents of aggression towards all of us in the family. But, just like I’m reading on this blog, he was the best, sweetest, very loving dog 99% of the time!  Making the decision to end his life has me fighting the worst depression of my life! I am just sick with guilt and sadness. It’s one thing to euthanize a dog who is old and has health issues. Other than the occasional problem with Dudley, he was such a good boy. The problems were getting more and more frequent. We were becoming afraid of him, and he was becoming less predictable. So, it’s done. He’s gone. And I’m a mess. Whole family is sad, but I’m literally inconsolable. I know time will heal my sadness somewhat, but right now my heart is broken. I purposely didn’t NOT put our sadness on social media, because I don’t want to deal with the opinions of Monday morning quarterbacks and critics. I only decided to post here because it seems you all went through similar situations. So I feel for you all, and am trying to cope with the pain of losing him. He was so loved. There was just nothing else we could do for him. He must have been tormented inside, because I know he loved us too.  I miss him soooo much. My heart is so broken right now.

Phyllis DeGioia
May 10, 2018

Dear Karen, I seem unable to tell you how profoundly your note moves me. To know that my hellish experience has helped someone to this level, and that other people's experiences have formed a community of grief moving towards healing for all of us, makes me grateful beyond words (and that is saying something for a chatterbox writer). You have a place in my heart, Karen, and I thank you.

May 7, 2018

Just to add to my previous post about Ollie.  Ollie also had boundary issues, I did attempt to crate train him when he was a pup but my neighbours complained about him barking even though I only left him for short periods at a time while home, they wouldn't allow me to give it a chance and I had to give up.  You couldn't separate him with a guard or door he would bark his head off, and not so tolerant neighbours made it difficult so he was always in the room with me.  That was another reason I felt unsafe, like I said before he would wake up, bolt upright, glaring at nothing, growling and snarling, then a minute later go straight back to sleep but I don't doubt if I moved he would attack me.  He would only do this at rest or asleep, never during the day while awake and alert and I am so riddled with guilt that I worry that only after 1 episode that I chose to put him to sleep.  I was always very nervous at night, never really slept much but I felt the situation was about to get worse and could not bear the thought of him hurting one of my grandchildren or someone else and I felt that was a good possibility.  Obviously over the two years since it started he was checked for pain or illness, had training and meds but nothing worked.  Vet said the issue was like epilepsy, never mentioned rage syndrome but I know that is what it was.  I was one of those who after having 3 springers before Ollie  said the condition didn't exist, I was wrong.  He was never dominant, could take anything out of his mouth, loved other dogs, a bit wary of strangers but would come around and never showed any aggression towards the babies.  I did everything I could, he was never abused, he was loved and well cared for. The future for him looked bleak, all I could see was a disaster waiting to happen and I could not take that risk.  Rehoming him was never a possibility, would have been like passing on his issues to someone else to deal with and I would have always worried about him, I think he would have eventually been pts anyway.  Thank you for writing your stories, it really does help.

May 7, 2018

3 weeks ago today I made the decision to have my 3 year old springer spaniel Ollie pts and I am absolutely heartbroken.  I never wanted another dog after losing my last spinger at 13 years old, I didn't want to go through that heartbreak again.  My daughter had other ideas and for Mother's day 3 years later gave me a surprise, 8 week old Ollie, I was in love.  He was the most loving pup ever, had to sleep beside me with his face on mine every night and loved his cuddles and so did I.  Everything was great, we were best buddies being only me and him but after he turned a year old things started to change.  We had just come home from a run in the woods, both tired and he was lying on my knee on his back with his chin on my face as always.  Out of the blue he woke up, snarling and growling, jumped off the sofa and attacked me, he kept biting my hand over and over, he was like a crazed animal, a few minutes later he was back to himself as if nothing had happened.  I was very shocked but blamed myself that I had startled him when sleeping and it was my fault so decided not to allow him to sleep to close to me again, quick cuddles then moved away a bit.  A few months later we were in bed, I was on my computer and he was sleeping, I reached over to grab my mouse, I never touched him, just moved and he jumped up, again attacking me.  I was very shaken up but again made excuses and became more mindful of sudden movement.  From 2 years on Ollie started waking up from sleep, bolt upright growling and snarling, no trigger.  I would just lie there frozen stiff until it passed.  Things got progressively worse from once a week to 3 times a night.  I obviously took the steps of behaviour modification, he was even put on valium but the vet set there was nothing that could be done for him, but I could not bear to let him go until 3 weeks ago I came in from shopping, he was all happy, tail wagging and nose in the bags to see what I got him. We went into the kitchen and I started unpacking the shopping he was sitting patiently waiting for his treat.  All of a sudden out of the blue he jumped up, putting his paws on the counter, snarling and growling at the wall (there was nothing there).  I asked him what was wrong, never seen him to that awake and he just went for me, I managed to escape and shut myself outside, he was still snarling when I opened the door, so I let him out and shut myself in.  That was when I made the decision that he needed to be pts.  There was no trigger, he was happy waiting for his treat and because I have 2 baby grandaughters, I could not risk a further episode or that he would do it outside.  I feel so much guilt and sadness that he had a such a short life, he was my baby, I loved him very much but I could no longer trust him and the bond between us was breaking, I was scared of him, had been for a while but thought I could control it as long as I knew what set him off, I no longer did.  I will never get another dog, my heart is broken but I had no choice.

May 6, 2018

This is a message of thanks. It is nearly four years ago now that I took my GWP Hudson on his final trip to the vets. The point of this post isn't really about my story but for the record  we took Hudson as a rescue at 3 years old. With hindsight so many gaps in his 'story'. Severe dog aggression if a dog approached him when on lead. 95% of the time fine, but on occasion with absolutely no warning or sign 0-100 in the space of a second, a silent and deadly attack. My lifestyle was such we could manage it and keep him and others out of harm's way. The most loving beast with people. He and my 5 yo niece were inseparable. Life changed. Marriage ended. New relationship and a bite to one of my new partner's children. Thankfully not serious but the thought of possibly translating what he could do to dogs to humans too much to contemplate. So much guilt on so many levels. I'm crying as I write this four years on. We took our last trip just he and I and he went laying with his head on my lap, me thanking him for the years and the love and telling him how sorry I was I couldn't have protected him more. The darkest times followed. The guilt, the literal hole in my heart, the inability to actually compute that he wasn't here any more. I am a lawyer, a supposedly sensible and rational person but I was broken into bits. I googled, I researched, I analysed and over-analysed and I found this blog and it saved me. In the darkest days when the grief was so deep and disabling and I literally howled on my knees for Hudson it laid the foundations of the ability to turn a corner. It helped me keep one toe on the ground at a time when I thought things would never be the same again and I would never ever recover. To know I was not alone meant everything.  If I could change it for Hudson and for all of us I would.  To know there was a brotherhood and sisterhood out there who have found ourselves in this god awful situation helped me carry on. And the love. So much love.  And at the end of the day that's all there is, our absolute love for our dogs. I've checked in to this blog over the years and been astounded and profoundly moved that its still going strong and sharing the stories of those of us who find ourselves in this uniquely devastating situation. I haven't conquered my demons but for the most part I have made peace with them and this blog set me on that road. To those whose wounds are fresh please read these posts and please know it will get better. To steal a quote: "Grief never ends. But it changes.  It is a passage, not a place to stay. Greif is not a sign of weakness nor a lack of faith. It is the price of love". Long may this post continue for those that follow in our footsteps and paw prints. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Karen.

April 28, 2018

I appreciate very much these stories.  The feeling of failing loved ones, canine and otherwise, is debilitating.  Tears flow and I'm sure more will from every member of our family as we hit that point of having no choice.  A black lab/Aussie Shepherd cross came into our lives as an 8 - week old puppy and though we were hesitant for a variety of reasons and not actively looking for a dog, I thought it was "meant to be".  After working through puppy training classes and lots of anti-nipping strategies, we had a dog that both of our children adore and who adores them, and who is playful and beautiful and very responsive to voice commands - in fact would love more frequent and complicated voice training than I give her.  She also learned to herd our chickens and, at first seemingly a boon that we encouraged but in retrospect unfortunate, took her job of guarding the chickens and our sheep, and the yard in general very seriously.  But at around 18 months, she snapped at a visitor who reached down to pet her, drawing some blood on his nose.  He was very gracious about it.  We worked on greeting and communicating to be careful, but it seemed that we were always trying to figure out what triggered her.  Then she bit a road worker in the knee long after I'd greeted him and been chatting with him, who came onto our property to tell us about work on our right of way, and though he was very kind to us about it and ready to explain it as guarding behavior, it later swelled up and required Augmentin.  We spread the word about her both to be transparent and honest, and in the hopes that we'd find someone interested in the challenge of owning a dog that has to be watched and trained more than we were doing.  The guilt I have for not being disciplined enough to  keep her on a strict schedule of crating with visitor and walking on a leash! She is so used to running free, following us around in the garden and fields, just being a farm and family dog, and we are so used to it, that I couldn't get it through my or my children's heads that she has to be inside or on a leash whenever guests come over.  We keep saying, "Oh, she's OK in this or that situation".  On top of that I returned to full-time work, changing everyone's daily and weekly schedule dramatically.Now we are more dog training and many nips and 11!! two tooth-mark bloody snaps later (all of which have been thankfully to very kind and understanding people) but the last three of whom were ages 14, 9 and 11.  The last one of which was on the cheek, rather than arm - done when a sleepover friend got up to go to the bathroom and leaned over to pet her because I wasn't paying enough attention since I thought the kids had all gone to bed.  That did it.  I can't wait for a worse one.  I can't have a house where kids can't come over.  I can't pretend that I'm going to suddenly become someone who doesn't space out and get involved with a music project, when a visitor gets out of the car and she is roaming the yard.  When I make a weekly schedule and budget and really look at what her life as an unpredictable dog would have to be, she'd go from so much freedom and so much kid attention to being penned most of the time alone.  My exhausted brain keeps arguing with itself - "we owe it to her to keep her alive at all costs!  No, some costs are too much, and too risky and not worth it!  Maybe the vet or the shelter will find the perfect home before Friday."  I can only hope.  

April 19, 2018

I adopted my 5 year old husky/lab mix from a local shelter who knew very little about her past. From my understating she was dumped due to a pregnancy. She was rescued, the puppies found homes, she was fixed and ready for a home. I was going through a really tough time in my life and I decided that a dog was the one thing that could give me the love I needed and wanted to give in return. I adopted Beauregard on September 11th 2015. When she came home she displayed some interesting traits. Very friendly (as people say, the dog picks you), very social, very snuggly. One night we were going to bed and she jumped up. I told her to get down (she’s a bigger girl and I have a smaller bed) and she planted herself on the bed. I told her to get down, she refused. I told her again and I had a nice set of teeth showing at me. I ended up having to flip my mattress to get her off. Shame on me because I brushed it off thinking “new home, new space, new environment and a lot going on.” And it was not dealt with. I had just gotten my first home and I decided to have people over. My girlfriends came and brought their dogs too. One of the girls is a childhood best friend and she actually adopted a dog from the same rescue I did because I brought beau home. Three dogs in the house! Beau and this other black lab got along wonderfully. Everything seemed to be going fine until we hear a yelp. Beau had bitten my best friends dog drawing blood and puncturing her ear. The puppy was only 3/4 months old at the time and was special needs (deaf) and I was mortified. My best friend brushed it off and said that her dog was being annoying and that she probably deserved it. I felt god awful. Fast forward to a year after owning her, she would still show her teeth at me and plant herself in spots and woundnt move when I asked. I thought about rehoming her then but I told myself “you made a choice and you brought her home. She wouldn’t give up on you” so I decided against it. My little sister goes through a divorce last year and she along with her two kids move in with me. They LOVED beau! Since November, my sister has called me at work 5 times saying beau has bitten the children. She at first told me that the kids were being annoying and that it wasn’t the dogs fault. I took her word for it... until it happened right in front of my face. Beau was toy aggressive and the one year old got too close to her and she growled and lunged at him. She nipped his hand and he was hysterical. I picked him up and removed him from the situation. Since then, my sister has called me a few more times saying that Beau has bitten and one day she left puncture wounds on his hand. That was the point where I seriously considered euthanasia. She has bitten two children multiple times drawing blood, bit a puppy drawing blood and leaving puncture wounds and two weeks ago she bit me because she didn’t want to get out of my jeep leaving me with nerve damage She’s only 7 and a half. I feel like a failure. I know I couldn’t have known and everyone is giving me an extremely  hard time over it.  People who are supposed to be my support system have turned their backs on me. Beauregard is set to be euthanized on Saturday morning. I actually had to send her with one of my friends because my sister threatened to steal her so she wouldn’t be euthanized. During all of my research there has been three options I’ve come across. The first is behavioral training, rehoming, and euthanasia. My vet told me that she cannot be rehabilitated due to the severity of the bites, she cannot be responsibly and/or safely rehomed, and that leaves me with my last option. I’m terrified.

April 6, 2018

Hi, i just wanted to comment on this article if i could help someone else, I just euthanized  my 4yr old pretty pittyx cross 3 days ago. She was a rescue dog from the SCPA and as soon as i saw here i knew she was the one, she was just soooo pretty, tan with beautiful brown eyes. Everyone loved my girl, including me, she has the most sweetest nature and loved people and children. Her main issue was dogs, i wanted the best for my girl so paid for a dog behaviorist to help her and socialize her, i walked here twice a day, most days and she had the best of everything. But everytime she was around dogs she lunged, tried to jump onto, bite and just plain aggressive. I kept telling her she wouldnt make any freidns behaving like that! She didnt listen, the dog beahvourist didnt seem to be helping here, it was a just a big fund day out for her really. When she started to jump my fence to get to other dogs, it started to get serious, i was in fear of letting her out and opening my doors incase she would jump, this wasnt a life for me or her, she jumped around 5 times and attacked other dogs, not badly (i thought) but it wasnt on and it was terrifing for the poor owner and their pet. I put extra wood around my fence and pots and things to try and stop her, i even was going to by an electric fence. But after animal control vsited one day after a complaint form the neighbour and he saw how much work i was doing with her and how sweet she really was, i told him i had her booked in to be put to sleep, he said dont, shes oo nice and just keep working with her. After he left she jumped again and attacked a small dog and put it in the vet with puntucre wounds. That was the last time, ic ouldnt carry on like this. It wasnt acceptable behaviour she had to go. So i put my baby to sleep a few days ago, it was the right thing to do as hard as it is and yes she was so sweet and pretty but she would have killed one day i just know it and i couldnt live wiht that. She had the best 5months of her life with me , she was so happy and so was i but she couldnt help herself and i just couldnt stop her jumping to get to other dogs. I was told he was because she had never been socalized as a pup, who knows. Its so very hard to put our babys down, especially when you know they are not sick, that was the hardest part for me. But she nor i could no continue to live in fear. Bye my naughty pretty pitty love you x

April 3, 2018

I would first like to thank everyone who has told their stories.  Coming to terms with euthanizing our 7-month old puppy Jack (please see my sister MB's posting from 3/2/18) has been one of the hardest things I have ever done.  Reading everyone else's posts has been very helpful. Many people have brought up the subject of getting another dog after euthanizing an aggressive dog.  We have always wanted to get a new dog after euthanizing a dog.  Before Jack we were always blessed to be in the position of euthanizing elderly, sick dogs.  I was always able to look at the 12+ years that I had with each dog with happiness and was always very sad to lose them, but accepted it as the way things are when you have a dog.  Having to euthanize a physically healthy 7-month old puppy is something that I will move past, but will never get over. We felt like we would never want to get another dog ever again.  We didn't trust ourselves to not make another mistake after a lifetime of owning many dogs, all with quirky personalities, but all dogs who really wanted to be part of our family and just wanted to be loved. After a very short period of relief, our 2-year old rescue dog Rocky made it very clear that he really wanted a friend.  He was Jack's #1 target and went through a very difficult time during the last several weeks of Jack's life.  However, he started running to the back door, toy in mouth, and looked at us with such disappointment when he realized that he had no friend.  We do have another dog Finn who sits with Rocky, but he is a senior pug and has no interest in playing.  Rocky still really missed his BFF, our 13-year old JOYFUL lab Noelle who loved having a puppy in the house and made Rocky very happy for the first two years of his life. We started looking at rescue websites and put in several applications.  We were extremely upfront about Jack, told the whole story and welcomed the rescues to contact our vet and/or behaviorist to discuss.  We were unbelievably grateful for the responses we received.  Not a single rescue denied our application, but instead offered condolences.  They were responsible and did reach out to our vet, but fully supported our applications.  One rescue volunteer actually called my sister to say that she was sorry and that she had been forced to make the same decision several months prior with her aggressive German Shepherd, so she really understood. One rescue had a large litter of puppies coming from TN on a transport the following week and really wanted to give us one of the puppies.  The last step was a home visit where the volunteer said that our two dogs and four cats looked happy, healthy and well cared for.  She went on to say that her mother had an aggressive Bichon and could not have anyone come to her house including her children and grandchildren.  That is no way to live for anyone, including the dog. Our new lab mix puppy Clover arrived at a rescue in Massachusetts and had to stay there for a 48/-hour quarantine per state law.  We picked her up on Sunday, March 25th. She's a JOY.  We were very careful with slow, supervised introduction and ongoing supervision.  We're very careful to allow our existing dogs to maintain their schedules and keep their favorite places to sit.  However, she and Rocky are in the play bow, sniff each other's behinds phase and Rocky is finally slowly returning to his old self.  Seeing what she's like shows us how wrong things were with Jack.  She's a normal puppy- nips everyone with her sharp puppy teeth and is determined to eat the coffee table, but is a normal puppy who is so happy in her forever home.  Jack never nipped.  Jack never chewed up anything.  Jack only lunged and bit in earnest. We're thrilled to have Clover in our home.  We love seeing Rocky, who came from an abuse/neglect situation of his own, start to trust again.  Clover is happy and playful, but very respectful of Rocky and Finn and knows when to display submissive behavior. While having Clover join our family has restored a lot of the joy in our house, it is often also painful.  We tried SO hard to show Jack how much he was loved and how welcome he was in his new home. There were moments when we could see that he desperately wanted to want to be loved, but tragically the demons in his head made him see every member of his family as a threat. We brought Clover to group training for her first class last Saturday, to the same place where we had brought Jack, but had to cut it short.  We went from having the most disruptive and dangerous dog in the class to having the most docile puppy who calms down other dogs with her submissive manner.  I still love Jack, will always love him and will miss him everyday for the rest of my life, but am unconflicted about the decision we made. Thanks again to everyone who has told their stories.  Your posts have been a source of great comfort.

Vicki Biggs-Anderson
April 3, 2018

My four-year old 110 pound Lab-whatever cross is a nervous wreck and has been since I got him from a shelter at age 3 months. To date, he has bitten three of my friends, the trash man and now the mailman. I have a sweet English Lab and she likes to play with the younger dog, but that is not enough reason to keep the other dog and after this last incident I came to realize that I don't love the aggressive dog as much as I pity him.I am 74 and live alone on a small hobby farm. Today I am leaning towards euthanizing the aggressive dog, who seems more unhappy than happy, But I fear the guilt. Must be brave. Thank you  for your reasoned essay as it puts the emphasis on "what if" consequences in a way that I had not considered.

March 30, 2018

First of all let me say that if I hadn't gone through this myself I would be one of those people saying I would NEVER euthanize my dog for behavioral issues. This is a long post, but if you're struggling with this, I hope I can help, because I am in struggle city right now myself. I adopted my first rescue a little over two months ago. I have never in my life loved a dog or shared a bond of this magnitude with a dog. That's saying so much as I'm a dog person & shared 15 years with my first dog, Bella, whom I loved with ALL my heart. She was my best friend.. but Koba was different. Koba was different. Koba was there for me in ways that NO ONE else is/was. I feel lost without him despite the short time we actually spent together. He was a typical bully mutt (about 70 lbs after finally putting on some weight). I am conflicted on sharing that information... knowing people are quick to say it's the pit in him.  After I had put my cocker spaniel, Bella, of 15 years to sleep this past August due to age related issues I struggled and didn't intend to find another dog this soon. Letting her go was hard but brought great relief after knowing she was no longer in pain. What I just had to do for Koba last Saturday has left my heart collapsing in on itself. I started volunteering at the shelter in early December to help grieve the loss of Bell and met Koba on Christmas Eve. I walked him and he was just the biggest mush.  His floppy face and ears and clumsy trot while looking back at me mid-flop won me over. Upon return to the shelter, he hopped up onto the couch in the lobby and cuddled with me until he had to go back to his kennel. He thought he was a lap dog. After that day, I spent more time there with him than not, letting him sleep in my car all day while I was there volunteering and let  him listen to music, which he loved. Every break I got would be spent cuddling with him in the car. He gave slobbery kisses, snored like a bear and wanted so badly to be warm and cozy. I felt terrible for the spot he had landed in obviously being abused and neglected. He came into the shelter skinny, and malnourished. He had an artificial hip that was dislocating and relocating, thought by myself and others to be from a car accident after seeing the x-ray. He had been there since late Oct & was labeled dog-aggressive and a resource guarder by the shelter. They didn't fix his leg as it "didn't seem to bother him", cost, and they feared if not in foster or a home he would never make it through the recovery. I went through all the reasons why not to take him; didn't know his exact history, story was fuzzy, age not really known, not dog friendly, hip needs fixing, resource guarder. Though I had no issues with him during our time together at the shelter, I took their warnings seriously. I could tell he was in pain and being around other dogs in cold NY winter was taking an extreme toll, add kennel stress and well, he was just depressed. I had this overwhelming feeling that he would be put down in the shelter without ever being given guidance from a loving owner. I told them I was falling for Koba. They made it clear that he was a guarder and asked if I understood and was okay with that. They said he could possibly guard his vomit or things I wouldn't suspect him to guard, and to be careful of him guarding me. I asked to see his food guarding and when I finally got him in a room with a trainer and his food.. I could see fear and discomfort, not aggression, though that's how it manifested. He would stare up and freeze at the fake hand, growl and bite it. I took it seriously, but felt that if he no longer had bad outcomes when my hands went near his food he could get over it.  We started "drop" training in all aspects and around his bowl to get him to realize that my hands meant better things. It worked like magic. He was a pleasure to train with and be around.  I took him home and everything was beautiful. He never guarded his food bowl from me, ever.. from his first day home to his last. He actually didn't guard at all the first month other than one incident in my doorway with the first toy he'd recieved. He initiated play with toys often, that being the only time I'd engage, but he would usually carry toys inside by himself on command, which I thought was wiser anyway given his past. He dropped the toy in the doorway and I went to get it for him as I opened the door. He growled and snapped the air. I figured, close spaces/fast motion was to blame for the slight slip up. The only other sign of aggression towards people in the first month was his behavior at the vet for his first check up. The shelter said he did fine at the vet previously which I found shocking, but I believed them. I figured I would muzzle him once she went to examine paws/ears/butt/ teeth to be safe even though myself and others in the family had touched and examined all those areas with no reaction whatsoever. I wasn't wrong in being shocked because.. He was fine with her coming in but came closer to me, wiggling. The exam started. He lunged at the vet without warning and tried to bite her arm when she simply leaned over him to touch an area she had to examine on his side. He was between myself and the vet. She left and threw me a muzzle to put on him. He let me put it on no problem and was his wiggly self. The second she returned he was alarm barking and trying to get the muzzle off. That was the first time I was ever nervous that he would hurt a person, as he was no longer listening to my reassuring words or my commands. Still, the vet isn't liked by many.. my cocker had to be muzzled at every appointment and with his leg he must have not had great experiences with vets to begin with. I thought, even if he was guarding me in that situation, it was because she smelled like dogs, cats, anal gland, and god knows what else. He was by my side all the time, loved all of my human family members, my aunt's children & baby included. Greeted everyone on the street including big men, some people were afraid of him due to his size and it always made me laugh because I truly thought he was harmless with any human.  The way he was with children is what kills me the most, he was an angel. Other than his great personality, he never had an accident in the house.. was a polite beggar, had patience, would playfully nibble my hands so gently. So obedient. Greeted everyone on the street with open paws and kisses unless you had four legs. The only signs of guarding he showed was towards very high value items, but no incidents being I would leave him in the crate with a bone or whatever that would be or utilize the drop command when needed. I knew his signs of when he was guarding and educated the rest of the people who came into contact with him of those same rules. I told them to never take a toy or food item from him. These rules were followed 95% of the time and even in the situations where they forgot, no incidents (other than me having a nervous breakdown knowing the possibiltites lol). He was smitten with my grandma, who lives upstairs and is my landlord. He enjoyed when my aunt would come down from her upstairs apartment for visits and would ditch me to cuddle her sometimes on the bed. He was acting weird one night when the toys were also on the bed, so I just kept them away when I'd have company. He still didn't like dogs, but I had a plan to slowly counter-condition that. My gut told me that something traumatic happened to him as he only became defensive if there were no barrier and if they were too close. I didn't fault him for it. Most of the reactivity would be provoked by other dogs barking at him. It was also clear by how he acted around certain things like shoes that he had been hit with such items, which broke my heart. He would bark and cry in his sleep in a repetitive fashion that included drinking water.. acting out his dreams before my eyes. I'd pet him and tell him everything was going to be okay, he'd wake up and kiss my hand, burrowing his giant block head into my body. He was so grateful. When he looked at me, I knew saving him was one of the best decisions I ever could have made. He clearly felt safe, finally. He was happy with me and loved living life by my side. Now, that feeling has been ripped out from under me and replaced with heaps of guilt and a sense of helplessness. By month two his dog issues were still looming but he was making great progress finally after making sure that he was getting regular positive interactions with other dogs at his safe distances. I tweaked my technique a bit and it really made a difference. He came nose to nose with another dog through the fence in a training session! He passed more than one dog on a regular morning walk with no reaction.  I was SO proud of his progress. I had plans to seek out a behaviorist not due to necessity but because I felt his situation needed someone who could diagnose his thought process instead of slap band-aids on his issues given his unknown history that my gut told me was haunting him. I never got to do that, and wish I could have acted sooner. In terms of guarding, he was so happy for me to be near his food that he was demanding I hold the bowl for him to make it easier on his leg during meals. He wouldn't even eat his food if I wasn't present. He was set to see a orthopedic surgeon March 26th to talk about his options to fix his hip. Everything was falling into place. He had been through hell, and had a long way to go, but in my eyes was damn near perfect. The monday before the incident, I asked a staff member from the shelter to help me with his seatbelt in the car after he greeted her with a friendly wiggly wag from the window, (as he did all of the shelter staffers/volunteers when he'd chill in the car while I'd walk.) Then, the second she leaned in over him and between us.. he growled and tried to bite her arm. She pulled back in time and was unscathed and he calmed down almost immediately, but it was not okay. It reminded me of the vet situation. I made a mental note to be extra cautious in the car with others and make sure that if there were any passengers to have them get in first and to apply the same idea to "his spaces" like my bed, his crate, his bed, his chair, etc. That night he growled at me when I went to play with one of his new toys with him after just giving it to him, but he relaxed. I gave him a quick time out. Then he growled and air snapped again when I went to position his new toy next to him for a picture, this time standing over the toy and growling. I contacted his trainer, who I am often in communication with and  told her what had been going on. We were set to meet that Wednesday to address it. The next day I decided to put his toys in his closed crate so that they would no longer be something he'd fear being taken. I had my aunt come down that night to hang out, and we would normally hang out on my bed as that's the only real place to sit in my room. ME, being the trusting idiot that I am, thought that I had nothing to worry about. He was somewhat uneasy when she came downstairs that night but I thought it was because I stopped her from coming down to make sure all his toys were away. After a very excited greeting, she entered my room and offered him a treat. He snapped at her hand as she asked for paw with a treat in the other hand. I wasn't having that but my aunt said she thought he was snapping to get the treat. I went against my better judgement, reset him in the other room, then returned and had my aunt get on the bed first. He jumped up in between us and cuddled up next to her. She was against the wall on the inside of my bed and he was laying on his back with his lips drooping like the mush he always was. Minutes after, I felt uneasy and saw his body tense up. I didn't want to be rash and send her running off the bed and make him actually "attack" by scaring her. That's when he stared up at my aunt, frozen. I recognized the look and told her to look away and as I was about to reach for his collar to pull him away and ask my aunt to do this another night, he lunged up at her face and bit her. I kept calm and grabbed his jaws telling him to let go which he did after a few seconds, but was still way over threshold and trying to stand his ground against her. He did not show any desire to re-direct towards me. Immediate regret is what i felt, cause I disregarded the subtle signs of my boy. He was guarding me. I was an idiot and didn't read the clear signs just because he never aggressively guarded me before the incident with the car. He was protective and I knew if I was in danger, he'd defend me, but he rarely even barked unless another dog was present. The only time he'd bark at humans was if they were coming down early or late to do laundry, which is very normal for dogs. If you compared him to my aunt's dogs, he never made a peep. His guarding may have seemed minor in the beginning, and may have disappeared in one respect.. what I didn't understand is that it could manifest again at any moment, in any fashion.  I'm writing this so that if anyone ever helps one of these amazing dogs that struggle with this, to know that you just cannot let things slide. Any "isolated incident" should be always be assumed to be related to their guarding.. even if it goes against how they've acted in the past. My aunt needed 60+ stitches by a plastic surgeon. I felt terrible for her, don't get me wrong, but I was even more worried about my dog and his fate. I knew what most people were going to say. I knew all of the breed specific discrimination that would now run rampant within my family. I knew my landlord would not allow him to stay. I knew I couldn't stay with anyone else because whoever I trusted had dogs too or I feared that he'd guard me again. My mom's boyfriend wouldn't allow me to stay with them in their bigger house where he could also be managed and kept separate. I knew I couldn't find another apartment that I could afford that allowed his size/breed in 10 days even though I tried. hard. I tried desperately begging for more time to find another place, while actively working with a behaviorist and muzzling him whenever he was out of my room, but it was no use. They wanted him out and they weren't going to help me keep a dog who they once fawned over as now, in their eyes, was "a danger" to others and "to myself". It made me feel like they looked at his life as invaluable. I still can't sit with my aunt and feel bad anymore, as her face is healed beautifully and my heart is unrepairable. Though I had a slightly different view of him after the bite, I did know deep in my heart that it was his guarding. I also knew that in the incidents where he guarded things from me, there was always more of a warning. In all incidents with other people, he'd go from 0-100 and only use his subtle cues as warnings. Those were not enough for the general public to understand. I loved him so much that I was truly willing to give up my life to make sure he could live his life out happily while we kept everyone safe in the process. If we had overcome it once, couldn't we again? The 10 day bite hold... was not long enough to process or make a clear decision. It broke me. This dog was not at all aggressive to strangers on the street even during his 10 day hold.  I had to stop him from going up to say hi to people and I knew if I had to continue to do that as a precaution that over time he WOULD become that type of dog who had stranger danger. I was advised by everyone at the shelter to put him to sleep and was told that if I brought him back (which I wouldn't ever do to him) that they would keep him for his 10 day hold and then euthanize him, that he could not be re-homed. I weighed my options and knew that I had none that seemed inviting. I looked at this thread and started to cry as I compared my situation to the author of this article and her beloved Dodger. My jobs are flexible but I am 24, and an aspiring singer/songwriter. With tour opportunities starting to come my way, my dream of my super people friendly dog tagging along with me turned into a nightmare of making sure he didn't guard me from my own tour crew/etc. Even so, he was worth making adjustments.. I asked for loans to buy time and tried asking behaviorists to personally call my landlord to help sway her to give in to her soft spot that I knew she had for Koba. Her mind was made and most of the experts themselves said there were no guarantees he wouldn't do it again. They also said that he could've done worse damage, but didn't. I knew all of that to be true. I also knew that this dog was my world, my best friend, and that putting him to sleep would be debilitating. I knew he deserved a chance but knew that if I gave him the chance he could do worse. I knew that he was so easily trained to let go of his food guarding. I also knew that his guarding would vary. I also knew and resented that my aunt's dog had the same tendencies to guard and even bit the baby in the face guarding my grandmother but because of her size, and the fact that she growled first, she just physically couldn't do the swift damage Koba had done to my aunt. I also knew that his guarding could have very much so been related to pain.. which is what eats at me more than most of these strikes against him. I thought about the amount of stressful vet visits he'd have to endure because of his leg and his inevitable future need for acupuncture, and overall frequent vet care. No matter how much I tried to predict when his guarding would pop up again, I couldn't read his mind, at least not fast enough. The thought of him hurting me in that capacity was the least of my worries, but after coming into my apartment with a sweatshirt smelling of another dog, he even looked at me in that strange way, his hair standing on end on the bed. Though, this was during the 10 day period after the bite where I was clearly distressed and he knew it. I couldn't tell if he was fixing on me or on protecting me. Either way, it scared me to know that a smell alone could cause him to feel that threatened. I spent 10 days going through a bucket list I made for him and it was a mixture of fulfilling & heart wrenching. I am so happy I did it for him, he was beaming. I would go from so happy to see him happy, focused on the present, at peace with my decision to completely lost and against what felt like killing my baby boy. Every time I would smile, I would want to cry, knowing that at the end of his 10 day bite hold.. it'd all have to end. During those days, I considered living in my car with him countless times, because he was that great and that special to me. Even now, part of me thinks I'd be happier if I chose that route. After the bite, I started to be more in tune with his guarding of me and realized it was indeed happening more and more frequently, especially when someone was intruding on our territory while I was present. He startled a little more easily and was giving the evil eye to gas station attendants taking my credit card whereas before hed be wagging trying to kiss them through the window. The days started to wind down and I kept crossing things off his bucket list. We spent his second to last and last full day at the beach. It was clear he had never seen it before. This 2-5 year old dog never saw water, let alone the ocean. He was so bewildered and then slowly but surely became a beach bum in that day and a half trip. We stayed over in a hotel for the night, where there were two beds. He could've guarded one to himself but instead he shared one with me.. The 10 days came to an end and it was time.. I was lucky enough to arrange for a vet from Lap of Love LLC to come to my home to do it. The vet I enlisted had also put down my beloved Bella. She knew that it was much different this time. I knew sedating him would be an issue, and even with a muzzle on he tried to lunge at her. She told me, "The problem is, he went from totally fine, to OH hell no!" She was right, but it still felt wrong. He got to pass away in my loving arms on his favorite chair after an amazing 3 months where I didn't take a moment of our time together for granted. That's the bright side. The hard part is that I'm still here, without him and full of guilt. They say not to blame myself, but I can't help but feel defeated and like I failed him. I learned valuable lessons, but would give up a limb to ensure that I learned those valuable lessons on another dog, not my own, not my boy. Everyone told me I'd feel relief that I know he won't hurt anyone again.. but its a spec of dust compared to the heap of despair that I'm currently living with knowing it shouldn't have come to this. My only relief came from knowing that he wouldn't ever feel like someone could take his happiness and safety away from him.  I was powerless to help him and I hope with time it's something I can live with because right now, this thread is the only thing stopping me from sobbing myself to sleep. He deserved better.. better breeding, better socialization, better care, better protection from trauma or prevention from feeling the need to protect the way he did, better training, more attention while at the shelter, a more comprehensive plan on my part, and just another chance to prove everyone wrong. All the odds were against him, and I couldn't swoop in and save him this time. That is no easy thing to overcome. I know everyone is saying to be easy on myself, and that I made his days so happy, but right now, that still doesn't feel like justice for him, truly. Justice would be a world where I could shout his story from the rooftops without in depth explanation and get people to see that it's not breed, they're not evil, they're dogs, and have something in their mind that hinders them, just like us. Except, unlike humans. all dogs know is "safe or unsafe?". In those moments, right and wrong is irrelevant. It's like his senses took over and he felt compelled to act and until he could feel secure again, the real Koba was trapped behind his fearful armor. I wish I lived in a world where I could tell his story and the response would be, "Things need to change, no dog should be a prisoner to their past, and if genetics are a factor, we should research it. The fact that this thread is so long blows my mind. Most of the stories I've found here and elsewhere that fit what an "aggressive dog" is depicted as couldn't be farther from Koba and his personality. Part of me wishes he was aggressive to the point that I couldn't go near him, so at least I wouldn't have this percentage of my soul telling me that I made the biggest mistake of my life by letting him go. To those who have had that situation occur, I'm not belittling your loss, I just mean that there's less grey area. I feel like with Koba his problem areas were all grey.  It feels like I didn't make the right choice, but I made the safe choice. The safe choice took his life from him.. and my comfort from me. I used to be able to lay in bed with him forever at peace, knowing he couldn't be hurt anymore and that I finally could just let my day melt away. If I had tears, he'd lick them right off my face. Now, I have an ocean of them and no one to stop them from falling. I can only hope that someone reads my story and understands how to me, I remember him as a loving ball of mush, not a statistic and not an aggressive dog who bit someone in the face once.   Mommy loves you Koba.... I will never forgive myself for the way things happened but I know it was also bigger than just me, you had been broken by your past and possibly your DNA. Despite all of those things stopping you from feeling free, you were my rock. I hope the only thing you remember about your time on earth was the sunshine of these last few months. I'll carry your memory with me as long as I'm here, and hope to keep your image fresh on my brain. I love you to the moon and back and back again...  my special, special, angel. 

Teri Ann Oursler, DVM
March 21, 2018

Jordan, I am sending you some reading materials about aggression, from Dr. Sophia Yin, who was a veterinary behaviorist.  Her work is continuing through other behaviorists. Some information on how to evaluate your dog’s body language. And a specific article about evaluating bite levels. And a poster showing dog body language. I do still  believe that seeing a veterinary behaviorist would be in everyone’s best interest. I wish peace for you and Sarge.

March 21, 2018

Thank you for your email Teri! I agree with you, the fact that Sarge has bitten at all is serious. And I realize that just because he is a smaller dog (25 lbs) he could definitely do damage. But I do not believe his aggression is fear based. He doesn’t display any of the symptoms of acting out of fear. I’ve worked with 3 trainers and our vet and we all agree he is a stubborn/dominant guy. He never appears fearful or timid. We have had him since he was 7 weeks old and he was always more than well cared for and if anything, overly socialized, as I took him literally everywhere with me. I think over time he just decided our home and everything in it was HIS. Therefore he would become irritated by people in “his home”. My husband is also not a big pet person. He is neutral with pets. Doesn’t pay them much attention other than to do the daily feeding and letting outside. I, on the other hand, am overly attentive to my pets. Taking them everywhere with me, lots of treats, food from the table, unwarranted affection ..I treat my dogs like they are people and I believe he came to view that, and me, as a big resource he didn’t want compromised. Also I don’t believe it is uncommon for dogs to challenge their position in a home with young children. They tend to view children as nothing different from their litter mates. So that had become a big issue. Also with two young boys, there is lots of running, noise, wrestling, etc... and with Sarge being the reactive/high strung dog that he turned out to be, it was more than a little hectic. Sometimes play turned into nipping because of too much excitement and over stimulation. We determined his threshold was on the lower side. So we really feel that putting Sarge in a calmer environment could really benefit him. If those triggers are removed, he is a good dog. He just needs strict rules and boundaries 24/7. We unfortunately did not have the lifestyle or ability to provide that for him. It’s hard because he wasn’t a bad dog all the time, he could also be fun and sweet. And believe it or not despite the nips and bites, our kids loved him and were never afraid of him. I suppose they became immune to it! But of course I can’t take a chance with him since he was beginning to nip and bite more frequently and I had no way of knowing if that would escalate. I was very fearful of our kids friends coming over and other friends of ours coming over because of his territorial aggression while in our home.  But when it was just the two of us, he was great. Sometimes I believe we end up with dogs that are just incompatible with our own personalities and life. So we hope he will do better in a new environment and he has already proved so with our trainer. She says he is happy, displays no aggression and gets along fantastic with all of her (9) dogs!

Teri Ann Oursler, DVM
March 20, 2018

Jordan, I am so sorry to hear about your struggles with Sarge.  I have been in your place, walked a mile in your shoes, with my own children and an aggressive beagle. To break down what you have written: 1.      He has been aggressive since a puppy. 2.      His aggression is severely escalating. 3.      He has bitten your children. 4.      He has bitten your nephew and destroyed his glasses. 5.      He has bitten you. 6.      He has bitten your husband repeatedly. 7.      He is well behaved only with other dogs, not people. You wonder if he needs a dominant owner. Frequently, dogs who are aggressive are fearful. In reality an aggressive dog who is trained with the old fashioned idea of dominance training only gets worse, as it increases their fear of the world. Yes, Sarge is a small dog, but he can still do serious damage, to the face or foot of a child, the hand of an adult.  He is big enough to cause permanent damage.  As I use my hands to make a living, the thought of being permanently injured scares me and it scared my hand surgeon the two times I was bitten.  Would you want that for anyone you know?  Adult or child? From your description, Sarge is a danger to adults and children, but is good around other dogs.  Sadly, homes with no adults and no children are not to be had, at least not until the dogs can figure out how to run a can opener.  :) It is not fair to anyone to rehome Sarge; it is not fair to put other people in danger. It is not fair to Sarge to place him in a strange place, his fear will only escalate. While Sarge does not have a physical illness, he does have a mental illness.  And just as some physical illnesses cannot be cured, some mental illnesses cannot be cured. If Sarge had an incurable physical disease, you would most likely consider euthanasia.  An incurable mental disease is just as debilitating and certainly more dangerous. I would suggest that you find a Veterinary Behaviorist, not a trainer, and consult with them about Sarge and his aggression.  They will be able to give you the best, most realistic information. I wish you the best with your family and Sarge.  Stay safe and please let me know what happens.

March 20, 2018

I am struggling with what to do with our 15 month old French Bulldog Sarge. We have had him since he was a puppy and began noticing aggressive behavior at around 5 months of age. We have two boys ages 4 and 9 and it has been a challenge. Started with resource guarding treats/food and chew toys and has progressed to dominant aggressive behavior over everything. If you sit too close to his bed/toy basket, will lunge at you and bite. If one of my kids comes close to me while I’m sitting low to the floor, he will nip at them. He has bitten my husband several times. He goes after him nightly while I’m cooking dinner if anyone comes close to where I’m preparing food. He’s a small dog so it’s typically the feet but still it can be frightening especially for a small child. He more recently attacked my nephew (8 yrs old) for no reason. My nephew was apparently just picking his eye glasses up from the floor and Sarge put a small puncture wound in his arm and he had two scratches on his hand. He also destroyed his eyeglasses. He can’t even tell you the number of times he has nipped or scratched someone. He bit me over a bully stick, because I got too close. It just seems the incidents are growing and becoming more serious and I’m afraid he will do more damage. I do not want to give him away (not considering euthanasia as he is well behaved with our trainer and with all other dogs). He is living with her at the moment. I feel like I’m giving up on him and maybe it’s just that we need to be more dominant/assertive leaders to him. However, I’m afraid I don’t know how to be this type of dog owner as all the dogs I have ever had I’ve treated like royalty. I just don’t know how to be any other way with my pets! It feels like someone has ripped my heart out as I think of all the good moments with him. Just need to know rehoming him with a couple who has no children and just another dog is the right decision?

March 18, 2018

Thank you for this article, it has helped me come to terms with a decision regarding one of our dogs. We currently have two dogs that we've rescued and the second one has guarding and anxiety issues. He guards toys, food, and then started guarding our daughter when she joined the family. We've been able to address and/or correct the guarding, but now it is random things that set him off and he goes after our other dog. We're at a loss of why and how to address the random, but fear that something will have to our daughter (a toddler). We've decided to surrender him knowing that there is a chance he will be euthanized, and it's heartbreaking. I feel like we've failed him, but our other dog doesn't do anything to make him react this way and I can't allow him to continue living in fear in his own home, and again my daughter get hurt. I'm also so frustrated because my husband thinks our dog only acts this way due our other dog not being  welcoming. If you were at risk for being attacked for no reason, would be welcoming - no. We have been fighting over this for well over a year as we've been considering this option and it's exhausting. Before making this decision we did try training and rehoming too.

March 2, 2018

We just euthanized our seven month old puppy last night. He had attacked our other dog, leaving his face bleeding. This was the last in an escalating series of attacks, starting slowly before Christmas, and recently growing worse by the day. I am absolutely stunned that we had to do this and we are devastated. Jack replaced our beloved 13-year old lab who we lost in October after several bouts with mast cell cancer. She was the least aggressive dog I have ever known and Jack was quite a shock after her. Like everyone else here, we did not come to this decision lightly. We have tried training, a behaviorist, and Prozac. It was alarming how much worse his behavior grew by the day despite our very best efforts to make things better. We simply could not help him. The behaviorist told us that, to display the level of aggression that he showed at such a young age was likely the result of a genetic predisposition rather than abuse. She told us that he was at the very beginning of adolescence and over the next two years his behavior would continue to worsen before hopefully leveling off. Despite the knowledge that we literally exhausted every other possibility and made this decision for us, for our other pets, and for Jack himself, I am overcome by guilt and a sense that I betrayed my boy. I know that this is not really true but can’t help but feel this way. The only solace that I have at this point is the fact that our other dogs and our cats are relaxed for the first time in months now that they are not under a constant threat.

March 1, 2018

"Chester is a good boy with a diseased mind." That's what the trainer said. That's what the veterinary behaviorist said. That's what we came to understand after months of trying everything: structure, exercise, training, drugs. He bit me in the face. He attacked me multiple times. He kept us up at night barking in his crate because he was terrified of me, because I had somehow become the anti-Christ. The vet was also the anti-Christ. And the groomer. And runners. And our neighbors. And cars. He chewed a bald spot on our one beagle's back. The other started having multiple accidents in the house every day. We all walked on eggshells trying to keep him calm and stable. We were told he was a ticking time bomb. We knew he was a ticking time bomb. So, we, in partnership with our veterinary behaviorist, made the hardest decision I have yet to make in my life...we decided to end our boy's suffering. We euthanized our beloved baby boy, Chester--for our own safety and for the safety of others. I write this through tears because the wound is still incredibly raw. For those who judge us: they cannot do so more than we have judged ourselves. We know we did the right thing, but that right thing was horrible. And tragic. And epically painful. Our hearts feel as if they may never fully heal.

February 23, 2018

My toy poodle rescue is at least 14... i love him very much, but he bites.... ME! He is in pain. He is on prozac, thyroid pills, and xanex. He is not happy anymore most of the time. But he doesn't want to die. His previous owners shot him, and kicked him off a balcony. He had a broken pelvis, broken hip, and still has buckshot in his leg. He has a very strong survival instinct. I am prolonging putting him down, but i know i have to. I just lost my father who died suddenly at 73 from a massive heart attack... I am worried that losing my little boy too, will be more than i can take. I guess we will see? I will never get another dog... The ending is too sad.

February 21, 2018

I got my 8 year old boxer from a shelter 5 years ago. He was so timid and shy, but instantly bonded with my other male boxer. I started taking him to the dog park and he attacked multiple dogs there so we stopped going. The first time he bit someone was me. I was holding a chuck it that he wanted and he bit my leg leading to puncture marks and extensive bruising. I chalked it up to him accidentally trying to get the toy.  Then he bit a worker at doggie daycare. This required stitches and a visit from animal control. The daycare said he had fought with another dog and bit the person trying to break it up, but it was not his fault. Then he bit two service men that walked into our home on separate occasions. We had a trainer in and he did well with this and is generally very obedient. My husband had a friend over and my dog ran over and bit him. After this, I put him on anxiety meds. He got out one day and ran next door and bit my neighbor. I got a behaviorist who worked with issues of territorial aggression. He went about 2 years without a bite incident. About 6 months ago, he bit my husband who was trying to bandage his infected ear tip. A few days ago he snapped and snarled viciously at my toddler unprovoked.That was it- we had to rehome him so we boarded him at doggie daycare. Since he has been boarding, he bit two staff members familiar to him unprovoked.I took him to board at the vet to look for any underlying medical problems causing the escalation of aggression. The vet suggested things like trying a different Med or a different trainer. Did she think I didn’t try my absolute best and sought all available methods to improve his behavior over the past 5 years? I love this dog and no expense was spared in trying to “fix him”. I told her he can absolutely not return to my home because I can’t put my child in danger. She suggested rehoming to a rescue group. I told her I contacted all of them and they will not take him with his history. I will not take him to a shelter. When I tell them his history, they will euthanize him. If I don’t tell them, he will be adopted and hurt someone. I’m positive his previous owners knew he had these problems but didn’t mention any of it and then he was adopted by people Ill equipped to manage these behaviors.I am 100% sure he will bite again. After reading all this, I am insulted that this vet seemed to insinuate I didn’t try hard enough. She shied away when I mentioned euthanasia. This was my dog who was so focused and attached to me. The behaviorist said he was only calm when I was in his eye sight. He slept at the foot of my bed and followed me like a shadow. I am not enough to fix him. I am not enough to keep him safe or keep other people safe from him. There may be people in the world equipped for this, but I know I have done all I can do. I can only be there with him at the end to hold him and tell him I love him so much. I’ve failed you but I would never trade away the stress, guilt, grief of being your person.

Barbara S.
February 21, 2018

Just had to add my story since seeing so many that have helped me through my grief (though I haven't stopped crying since I put down my sweet girl on Monday).  We adopted Terrie from a Wheaten Terrier Rescue 1 1/2 years ago when she was 8.  She had been taken from an abusive situation that probably went on the last two years of her life.  She was found covered in ticks and spiders imbedded in her beautiful fur.  My heart just breaks thinking about what she must have gone through.  When she came to us, she was shy but eager for affection and just to be taken on walks.  She actually seemed much more easy going than our previous Wheaten who had passed from illness at 12 1/2.  The only bad thing was she threw up and/or heaved after every meal, so we switched her food and added digestive enzymes -- marked improvement!!  Then fast forward three months later, and she bit me hard on the hand when I found her standing with all fours on the dining room table (the man she had stayed with before was a hoarder and she had no place to stand) -- I reached for her to take her down when she bit.  Then within a few weeks she bit me over the cat's food, spilled garbage and a bag of produce from the Farmer's Market.  When she bit, she would bare teeth, spit flying, and snarling while she lunged.  I was truly scared.  She bit hard but rarely broke skin.  She also wasn't house broken and if you tried to stop her from peeing on the carpet, she would lunge and bite.  My husband wanted her crated when she wasn't leashed to my waist.  She taught herself to open both the bottom and top latch of the crate, so we had to move  an air conditioner against it.  It was a big crate with a nice LLBean doggie bed, but I hated to have her crated so much, so I would take her on walks as often as possible which she loved, or tethered by my side around the house.  We couldn't take her anywhere in the car -- not even 5 minutes down the road to the vets (we would walk there) as she would become frenzied in the car, barking nonstop and jumping from front to back (she broke the seatbelt and learned to circumvent the Kurgo barrier we put up).  She also was food obsessed, would wolf her food down which I learned to slow by feeding her in courses, and then after eating would look for more food and even eat the wood shavings from our wood stove.  We had the vet do a total workup to check for health issues and there were none.  He told us some dogs really do have a mental illness.  I was crushed.  Then one day I took her up to the bedroom while I got ready for work, and she stole an apple core my husband had left on the night stand.  I knew better than to pick it up, so I threw my sweater on top of it when she put it down.  Well she wheeled around growling and snapping, bit my arm (protected by my robe) and kept coming at me while I was screaming for my husband to get her away.  Even then I still was in denial thinking I caused this by not letting her have the apple core.  However besides me she has bitten my husband at least 3 times, and my sister-in-law once.  We also couldn't groom her or she would snap.  Most of the time though she was totally sweet, lying on her back, feet up for a belly rub, sitting quietly by my side while I worked or read, and going on long walks in the neighborhood.  I miss all of that so much and have been second guessing if we made the right decision.  We didn't make this lightly, consulting the Rescue Organization, our vet, and our church family who all said sometimes euthanasia is the best answer to set them free from whatever is tormenting them.  Right now I am beyond heartbroken and hating myself for allowing my little wheaten to be put to sleep.  We were with her at the vet's and had lots of treats that she loved.  She seemed so happy, and they gave her a sedative as I didn't want to see her die, but neither did I want her to see us leave as she has separation anxiety.  She came up to us so happy, tail wagging after they gave her the sedative, and them after a few minutes she fell asleep.  I never saw her look so beautiful or peaceful.  I miss her so much and wonder if I would make the same decision again knowing how much it hurts.  Maybe since coming at people snarling and biting is never acceptable, but still . . . Sometimes my grief turns to anger when I think of the way this beautiful creature was mistreated before she came to us.

February 16, 2018

I’m crying as I am reading this. I looked for a dog for 2 years and finally found what I thought was a great dog.Now, 8 months, later I cannot believe that I am seriously contemplating putting the dog down. I have had him neutered, immunized and socialized. He is increasingly mean. He will bite with no provocation. I’m baffled. I have NEVER had a dog behave this way and neither has my husband. It’s as if he is possessed. My elderly mother dropped a Tylenol and the dog darted across the room and bit her. It’s a freaking cockapoo! This article helped clarify my thoughts and helped me realize that I cannot continue and that I am NOT ALONE. I still feel incredible guilt because in some ways he is a good dog. I can’t risk having my family or myself injured anymore.

carol pepe
February 6, 2018

My 15-1/2 year old lethal white Aussie, Taz (born deaf, one good eye and seizures - as was his brother, Jazz who died several years ago going through seizures) has CCD and sundowners syndrome.  He has bit me 4 times since last August.  I did not have to go to the hospital or ER but it hurt and took a few weeks to feel okay again.  All 4 times on my arm/hand.  The reason he has bit me was because of the CCD.  He doesn't realize what he is doing.  He has always been gentle and still is until night time when the sundowners kicks in.  I don't know what to do. I have friends that tell me I should put him to sleep and I have friends that say I just need to learn to work around him at night time.  I have 2 other dogs and I am not worried about them but my friends are.  Plus they say even though he doesn't mean to bite me he could bite me and do much damage.  He seems happy, eat/drinks, doesn't have accidents in the house.  Doesn't always recognize me, follows me everywhere and looks for me when I am not right next to him.  He loves his walks and everyone during the day.  If I put him to sleep I feel like I am killing a dog that is still loving life....I just don't know what to do.  I have had Taz since he was 4 months old and he went through my divorce 12 years ago with me.  When I got divorced I had the 5 dogs that my ex did not want.  Taz is the last of those 5.

Karen and Michael
February 4, 2018

Thank you for sharing your experience...Yesterday we put down Peanut and Trinket, two beautiful Dachshunds we rescued from a rescue group here in Canada. We did not know they were known biters as it was not related to us. However, even though Trinket bit my husband Mike on the finger very badly when he tried to put her in the car, we figured it was a one of situation. The dogs were scared, they were leaving a very disordered and chaotic foster home and going with us, complete strangers. Long story short, they never got over their anxiety that they brought with them from their previous life. We did all we could to help them but the biting was getting worse. They were so quick, you would never see it coming and the pant leg tugging escalated into biting our Minister one day and drawing blood. I was horrified a what had happened. The Minister did nothing to provoke the dogs. My husband had been bitten many times over the past 2 years. The dogs had bonded to me. However, I was bitten in the face by Peanut last week and it came as a complete shock. It was decided after several months of agonizing pain that we would get rid of the dogs. We took them to the spca and they could not accept them and could not rehome them. They gave us the name of a couple of dog behaviourists and they were full. The dogs were in the car...we were at our wits end. We went to our veterinarian and he knew the dogs well and was a dachshund breeder and enthusiast. He understood our dilemma completely and stayed late after work yesterday to put Peanut and Trinket down. He said the dogs could never be cure and that we were doing the right thing. Peanut and Trinket were 7 years old, in the prime of life and beautiful. When they behaved, they were the most affectionate and loving companions. But the biting was escalating and the chaos in our home, unlivable. I waited in the car while the vet put them down. Yes, we feel sad and guilty, but there was no other choice. It was hell to have to do it. There are dog lovers out there who will criticize us for putting them down, especially the rescue group we got them from. But they are in the habit of rehoming dogs repeatedly when it doesn't work out. This is very concerning to us. In the end they are dogs and dogs live in a world with humans. We simply cannot put dogs ahead of more bits and getting sued. We have not been able to have guests to hour home in 2 year and our grandchild is at risk. So...please, if someone is reading painful as it is, do the right thing and put the dog down. Our other dog Digby, a bulldog boxer cross is so relieved the dachshunds are gone. Their chaos was even bothering her. Today Digby is happy and regaining her status with us that was lost when the dachshunds arrived. Living for 10 more years at least with dogs we could not trust was just too high a price to pay.

February 2, 2018

I would not kill my dog even if he lunged at me

February 1, 2018

I'm sure you've heard this a million times by now, but thank you for writing and sharing this. My boy's appointment is this Thursday, and I've been suffering with so much guilt. But he's just not wired right, and it's been fourteen years... it's time. I keep other people safe from him, but I'm not, and my wife is terrified of him to the point that we sleep in separate rooms. I gave him the best life I could, and now I need to let him go.

Owner of a sweet puppy
January 30, 2018

Thank you for this article and all the comments.  I feel like I will be able to move on a lil quicker after reading this.  What sticks in my mind is the vet comment on...dogs should have a strong minds not to startle at home.  We went through it. Bored, attacking/scratching of the face... it escalated over a month time & last was he bit my daughter bc he was startled after waking from a hour nap next to that daughter.  She just went to put her hand on him to say goodnight.  I thank you all for sharing bc I really felt like I was playing God... and I have no right.  But seeing the similarities in unpredictable behavior escalating and evolving to different scenarios, it would seem that my puppy was suffering from anxiety & as this article mentioned I believe a dog should be able to relax in his home.  

January 30, 2018

I found this story while sitting on my sofa, crying and looking for answers to the unanswerable question of why and what more could I have done.  I made the decision to euthanize my 3 year old Bassett hound today.  Like so many other commented, 99% of the time he was one of the sweetest, most loving dogs. A typical Bassett, loves being with his people and other pack mates.  It started innocently enough with guarding his food dish from the older dog when he reached 18 months. He had been through puppy socialization classes and group basic obedience.  He did as well as any of my previous Bassett’s. I worked with my trainer privately when we noticed his food bowl issues.  Then we went out of town for a week and there was an episode of aggression towards our house sitter.  Someone who had been familiar to him and had stayed several times before without incident.  I started with my vet who did a complete blood panel, thyroid panel and GI panel to rule out a medical cause.  More sessions with the trainer, though it is hard to train for something when you don’t know the trigger.  Then he started snarling and snapping with his teeth towards family members unprovoked.  The trainer started talking about muzzles and crates in the home.  I was no longer taking him to the parks or trails.  I was afraid that he might “react” negatively.  Our walks were in the dark later at night, meeting no one on the neighborhood sidewalks.  We started him on anti anxiety medications to see if that would help.  I drove two hours to meet with a highly recommended certified animal behaviorist.  Of course, he didn’t display any of his less desirable actions during our appointment.  She had some helpful insights into why he may be reactive and gave me some training skills and management tips that we implemented.  We had two months of no problems.  Then four escalating episodes in the last week, one against the cats, one against our older dog.  Then the snarl and snap with contact on the arm of a family member.  No broken skin, but sudden, unprovoked and frightening.  Then this morning I walked into the room where he happened to be.  I said his name to get his attention as the behaviorist had recommended we do to minimize startling him.  He looked at me, then lunged and jumped up into the air towards my face.  I had to jump back to avoid him making contact.  For the first time in my life I was afraid of a dog.  I was afraid of my own dog.  After he went outside and I shut the door, I sat down on the floor as I came to the realization that I couldn’t continue making excuses or trying to come up with justifications for his sudden aggression.  Was I going to wait and watch it escalate until he broke skin and damaged someone?  My vet and the staff at his office were completely understanding and supportive.  It helped in the moment, but now I can’t stop crying.  Looking at “his spots” in the house.  Missing his comforting weight against me as I write in my journal and drink my nightly tea.  I can’t help but feel that it was something that I did or didn’t do that created the problem. Did I do everything that I could have?  I know that I did the right thing, but the right thing has left me wrecked.

Gary Davis
January 27, 2018

Well, i believe you did the right thing. An animal has a natural instinct to kill to eat. There teeth are sharp for that purpose. It is in the genes and will at some point be bread out of them. Anything that agressibly attacks another living creature with intent to cause pain, harm,sufferin, even death is a burdon that must be stopped. Its not like dog activists say. If a human does such things they are punished severely and thats how it is. They are removed from the ability to change the civility of others lives. Hince jails and such. I firmly agree with what you had to do. And you handled it diligently and with concern. I was taught very young that if an animal bites you it is put down. No second chance to redeem itself. It broke a comfort, ethical, and civil rule. Why should one feel the responsibility of making sure it doesnt happen again. That living creature made a choice and must have consiquinces. Some say treat it sweet and it will help change its behaviors. Stay on top of the warning signs and it will help them. Rule of thumb in my world is. If it bites once it will again. Also, if it bites once its over for it. The trust placed in a dog is much more then most even see. They will protect. They will most part be loyal. Once that reality is gone it chamges everything. Those saying animals should be helped aftrr such an event as happened to you have most likely never experienced something of that magnitude. They lack tge knowledge and feeling an event like that causes. So they assume all pets are just like they have. Problem not seen to eyes is the genetic makeup of the dogs. Pit bulls are deemed what they are for a reason. They were bread to fight bulls as a pack. And just because one has a great disposition with them doesnt mean that all are like that one. But they assume. Im a dog lover and ive had many breeds.  Like boxers. Labs. Doberman pinchers. Rottweiler. Mutts.Shar-Pei. None ever tried at me but were well trained as pets and as guards of the home. I guess im trying to say that you did the right thing. Most certainly. No doubt. And your poor cat is certainly paying for it. They do not forget. Thats about all i was going to say. Just wamted to maybe put my two cents as i understand what you were sharing with us. You protected your humble world amd no one can say your wrong for that. Nor should you feel wrong for that. Habe a great day

Lynne Coleman
January 25, 2018

Couldn’t stop crying about Dodger, how so very sad.  He must have gone through hell before you rescued him.  Very sorry, but he’s in much better place knowing he’s loved by you while realizing that he must be better off without suffering.  And he wouldn’t have wanted to cause you pain any longer.  He’s in peace now.  Right now I have a hard time thinking about to euthanize my rescued dog I found three years ago.  I love my boy and don’t want to feel guilty with a lot of tears.  ❤️ For you and Dodger.

January 20, 2018

I am currently trying to decide what to do with my aggressive dog. She is aggressive towards all other animals and some people. She has bitten a couple people but not severely. However she constantly attacks our other dog. Her aggression is escalating. Just yesterday we went to the vet to discus our options. He told us Prozac would only make her worse and would potentially cause her to turn on me and my boyfriend. He suggested a behavioral specialist or euthanasia. He said if we had children, he would recommend euthanasia with out a doubt. My boyfriend and I live in constant fear that she will kill another dog or severely hurt a person or a child. We have removed our other dog from our home, she is temporarily living with my mother. I am struggling with the decision because we are both in our late 20s and self employed. We just financially can not afford to see a specialist and have a regular trainer. Plus we live in a rural area so it would take 2.5-3.5 hours to drive one way to make it to a specialist. Even with a specialist and trainer, it is not 100% guarantee that she will be “fixed”. My dog is a 6 year Australian Cattle Dog. I picked her at two days old. She has never ever been abused. She does not have fear or anxiety. She is just aggressive. She doesn’t have a thyroid condition or Lyme disease. She is wonderful with me and my boyfriend. Silly and loving. She loves to be held and to run. Her aggressiveness  has become so unpredictable that we cannot take her anywhere. I am struggling with giving her the exercise she needs because she will try to attack any other dog that comes close enough, unprovoked. Taking her for walks or hikes have become impossible. A lot of people let their dogs run loose or do not leash them when they walk them in my neighborhood. Im too afraid to take her on walks and when she is outside it’s brief and she is on a trolley so she cannot leave our yard. We have had neighbors dogs come into our yard and she has attacked them, luckily with no serious injuries. I know I wouldn’t be liable if she seriously injured another dog on our property but it wouldn’t be the same if a child came into our yard and was attacked. I know I have to make the decision myself. I have talked to my parents and a friend and they all have their opinions but they don’t have to live in constant fear. I don’t fear she’ll ever hurt me but I couldn’t live with myself if she hurt someone else or a child or another animal to the point where they needed to be hospitalized. I am really struggling with the guilt that I am even considering euthanasia. And also the fact that my family and friend are making me feel even worse for thinking that. I find some comfort reading this article and peoples comments that I am not alone. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. I love my dog. She has been by my side for the last 6 years and has been my best friend when I didn’t have anyone. She has brought me so much happiness and laughter. I am completely discouraged with my options. Thank you all for taking the time to share your stories. I apologize for my poor writing, I am sitting here crying and thought maybe sharing my struggles would help me.

January 18, 2018

I read this article, and the comments while I was trying to make a decision. That was well over a year ago, and both the article and the comments were very helpful. I should leave mine, now I am up to writing it calmly. I found a smaller/medium breed dog, a usually family friendly breed, who with the original breeder and was about 7 months old. The breeder had been concerned enough about what the first buyer had said to buy him back from them. They were first time dog owners with several children. He had also started fighting with his father as soon as she got him back, since they were both still intact. I remembered later that she let him socialize with us with his crate closed and the other dogs about. He was slightly shy, but was a happy and responsive fellow. It took a while to get him out of the crate at our house. I have worked with and owned shy dogs before, so we gave him time and space. My children are also grown. I had signed him up for a puppy class. We only attended twice, he huddled in a corner and would not leave it. We did several fearful dog classes after that, and I would take him to other classes so we could stay off to the side and work on desensitizing him, rather than the actual class, as that was too much. Sharp noises were just terrifying, eventually causing him to snap, literally and figuratively. His first placement seemed to have cemented children as his biggest trigger, and they indeed do make many loud, sudden, sharp noises. He hid under furniture near constantly, or in his crate, and we are a quiet home of one retiree and one working introvert. While he had been fearful of children before, he started to feel that he had to get them before they got him. No child ever harmed him, nor scared him intentionally with me. But children, playing normally outside, three houses away, when he was inside was terrifying to him. We tried more desensitization, he had already been on several medications, alone and in combination, and had been neutered a while back. He escalated to flinging himself at windows, and trying to escape the house or fenced yard to attack children. He began to have redirected aggression and would try to bite us when we removed him from windows if a child was in sight or hearing. We already lived with heavy blankets over all front and side windows. He had several near miss snaps, and was often wearing an agility harness with a handle mid-back, so you could move him to his safe crate without him being able to get you once he lunged. Thankfully these were all at family and older guests. On our next trip to the vet we were told he had lost several pounds running from window to window to door searching for a way to get children outside. We made the decision even though he had not bitten to cause stitches yet. The first attack would have been a child, if he ever got lose from us, and it would have been very bad. He was almost 2 years old, and had continued to get worse no matter what we did. The vet said something was wired wrong that neither we nor they could fix, and agreed the risk to children was too great. His quality of life, hiding under furniture, constantly alert for noises to attack could not have been a pleasant life for him either.

Martin England
January 16, 2018

Last night we had to put our boy Henry down. We had him for three years, and gave him a good life, but he bit my wife and I several times, bit our dogsitter last summer, and nearly killed a friend's dog. Last Saturday morning at 4:30, I woke to a blood-curdling scream: Henry bit my wife badly while she was sleeping. He ran into the room of a student who is living with us, and was fully-charged and ready to attack again. I cannot get the image out of my mind, but I knew at that moment we had to euthanize him. He was such a good boy most of the time, but I will say, this article gave me much peace and solace to know we did the right thing. Two quotes come to mind. The first is from the vet who put him to sleep, who said, Imagine going through life, thinking everyone is your's a tortured existence. Second quote came from a friend, who said, Just because it's the right thing doesn't make it any easier. It was hard. We have three other dogs, and since his departure, the pack is instantly more relaxed. It never occurred to me that he put all of them on high alert, too. I don't wish this decision on anyone, but in the end, we did the right thing. Thank you for the article, and thanks to all of you for your comments. Peace.

January 11, 2018

Our beautiful, big, handsome boy Moe will be leaving us tomorrow evening. We have shared the most amazing almost three years together, he has been an incredible teacher. I invested everything I had into helping him overcome his fear aggression. I've essentially trained myself as a professional, even going so far as to attend seminars and lectures, volunteered to co-run reactive dog classes so I could study more dogs, read every resource possible, studied multiple science based training strategies. We completed numerous programs together, always successfully. I consulted with my regular vet, a veterinary behaviourist, tried medication, saw multiple certified trainers from onset at seven months old (he's just shy of three). I did everything you are supposed to do, and more. My life was lived for Moe, and quite happily too, despite the stress and anxiety an aggressive dog creates. But with every success would come an aggressive incident from left field. Some I could explain away, but two nights ago, we had a true and undeniable incident of idiopathic aggression towards a very well known and well loved (by Moe) family member. Someone who has cared for him every day for two years while my husband and I went to work. Who lived with us. Fed him, cuddled him, loved him. There were no antecedents. I knew in my heart in the immediate moments after the attack that it was his time, despite the happy ending of no bite or injury inflicted. With every companion animal I've, I've known when their time arrived, it would just settle into my chest with certainty. I wanted to explore a few more medical possibilities (mainly Hypothyroidism) but in the end we decided we didn't want anyone to stop loving Geronimo. To start thinking of him for this darkness that seemed to be eating at his soul bit by bit. He was always a loving, goofy, funny, physically affectionate guy. And we recognized after the attack, that he had been not himself for at least a week or two already. Not wanting attention, or responding to invitations to be affectionate. He's just...absent of his personality. It's like he's not all there, and there will be little moments where we see Moe peak through, but he's just flat for the most part. We know, despite feeling like we should have pursued testing sooner (please don't rely on a vet or veterinary behaviourist to initiate blood work, including a full thyroid panel, and neurological work up, Moe was never fully vetted and I like and appreciate the professionals I worked with, but we all have the capacity to miss stuff or not know things), that this is the right decision for Moe. Not just us, but him as well. We've done our best to provide an enriched, if sheltered life. Now we've lost his day care, so he would spend his days alone and he does not do well alone he loved being with his people. And we don't want him to feel that hesitation from us, that seed of fear of what if that has been planted. And we don't want him to experience hurting someone, we truly believe this is a mental illness, separate of his loving nature that we've enjoyed since puppyhood. We won't allow his memory to be sullied by a failure in management or an unpredictable episode of idiopathic aggression. He deserves better than that. It is absolutely the hardest decision I've ever made with a companion animal. I just lost my horse ten months ago due to a broken leg, and that felt easier. But this is no different really, I couldn't fix my horse's broken leg and I can't fix what's broken in Moe. I can't help him, I've tried, and this issue is outside both my control and Moe's control. He wants to be a good boy, and so, we will help him be laid to rest as the good boy he is. If you are dealing with this, my hearts breaking for you, but know that this decision you've reached is one of love and compassion. I don't know how I will recover from his loss, but I do know I'm grateful for all the lessons he's taught me. I wouldn't trade our time together for anything in the entire world. Goodbye sweet Moe. I love you my darling boy. You will forever be securely in my heart, I promise you I'm not leaving you alone, I'll carry you everywhere with me for all the rest of my days. Mama loves you bud.

January 9, 2018

Thank you for writing this article and providing the updates as you did.  Last Friday we ended up putting down our 5 yr old English springer spaniel after he attacked our son.  When Sage was younger he did bite our nephew. We immediately put him in classes and got help.  Afterwards he showed no signs of aggression towards people or children.  However, He was aggressive towards other dogs. When we had our son, our sage was always by his side.  Our son would wake up and hug the dog then start his day.  They would play together and even lay side by side.  Last Friday the dog snapped  when our son went to lay beside him, the dog jumped on him and put 50 stitches in face.  It was the scariest moment of our lives. As you said in the article, it was tough to keep my heart out of it as I knew what I had to do.  I did love that dog, and so did the rest of the family, but something wasn’t firing right in his mind.  Sage always was timid of little thing and was defensive around dogs.  All of the emotions you described are surreal and exactly what my wife and I went through.  We know our beloved sage is in a better place where he doesn’t have to be afraid and can enjoy life. Thanks again and I’m so glad to have found this article even after the fact.

Phyllis DeGioia
January 8, 2018

Jean, I'm so sorry for your loss. I understand the pain and the relief. Unless someone has lived with this situation, they truly do not understand what it's like. It's too easy to say "live with it," and so incredibly difficult to do so. You have saved your repeatedly bitten dog from further trauma, and turned his or her life into what it is supposed to be: safe. My heart is with you.

January 6, 2018

Thank you so much for your article, and to those who have added their comments.  Two days ago we euthanized our aggressive dog who had growled and bore her teeth at both of our other dogs, and she had bitten one of our other dogs several times.  99% of the time they got along fine, but then she would get triggered by something we often could not identify, despite all of the reading and training we did.  The final episode was 5 days before she was euthanized.  The attack happened in a flash, and came with the despair of knowing that despite all of the medications, supplements and training it was time to let her go.  The shared stories from this article, and the commenters, helped me so much to feel less alone in this decision.  I found myself afraid to talk to people about what had been happening in our home, because so many people had suggestions for how to make it better, in their opinions.  Although they were well-meaning, they did not have to live with the fear and anxiety that comes from living with an unpredictable animal who has lashed out at other dogs in the household repeatedly.  I felt it was only a matter of time before she bit a person.  It was not a lightly made decision, but it was the right one.  We let her go before something really horrific happened, we had a chance to love her and let her go in a peaceful way.  I am sad beyond words, but I am peaceful.  She is finally at peace...  Our home is calm, quiet, and although I still get anxious for a split second here and there, I remember that she has gone to a peaceful place.  Then I cry and celebrate the ability to take a deep breath and relax.  RIP sweet girl.

Phyllis DeGioia
January 5, 2018

Kelly, My heart is with you, Toby and of course Lucy. I hope Toby is okay physically. It's such a difficult decision. As Dr. Gaspar says, escalating behavior is not good in any species. Please try to remember that it is not Lucy's fault, nor yours: it just is what it is. I think of it as having the kind of broken wiring seen in mental health diseases.

January 5, 2018

Thank you so much for writing this. I'm sitting here dreading this evening at 5pm, which is when our vet will arrive to put down our sweet Lucy. Lucy attacked our other dog, Toby, twice on New Year's Eve, after displaying escalating signs of fear-based aggression toward dogs, cats, children and adults since we rescued her two years ago. Thankfully, we were there and able to get her off of him both times. Toby, being the least aggressive dog on the planet, didn't fight back or defend himself - he just cried out for us to come help. We thought we could re-home her in a home without other animals; naively, we thought that maybe she just had an issue with other dogs. This morning, she attacked Toby again in our backyard. I had to wrestle her off of him, and I will never forget looking at her - in the throes of fear and aggression - and realizing that she was ready to come for me as well. I had to force myself to remember that she has bitten, albeit without damage, a child. That she has bitten, again without damage, a friend. We would never forgive ourselves if we sent her to another home without dogs only to have her attack someone else. Given all of this, we've made the horrible decision that we have to put her down. I'm heartbroken - she is so sweet, and cuddly, and loveable 99% of the time. But we can't live our lives in constant fear and anxiety that something mundane will trigger her, or that she will attack a new owner. Thank you for sharing your story - while I am deeply heartbroken right now for my sweet girl, I know that this is the right thing for her, for Toby and for us.

Teri Ann Oursler, DVM
December 24, 2017

Jen, In reading your story, I am feeling your pain. But, I want you to know, you are making the right, albeit very difficult, decision. You have done all that you could for you and your dog, and keeping your baby, as well as others, safe is paramount. I am sorry you are having to go through this and that all of your hard work did not yield a loving family dog.It is not your fault that it could not be accomplished. Please, have a Merry Christmas.

December 24, 2017

Thank you so much for writing this and also thank you to all the people who have commented on this piece. As I sit here on Christmas Eve with my 8 week old daughter my husband and I have made the difficult decision to euthanize our 5 1/2 year old Shih Tzu. We rescued him from a “farm” 5 years ago and he has never been normal. He has intense anxiety and fear aggression. We gave medicated him with anxiety medication with no success. We have read and researched and attempted many different types of training, most recently and extensive board and train by licensed behaviorists. We were so hopeful that he could be trained and molded into a dog that doesn't growl, snap and bite. Over the years he has bitten no less than a dozen people - and that is just the ones that I remember. Because he is a small dog and doesn’t cause severe damage he has gotten away with it. When we picked him up from the training we were told that there was no hope that he would be allowed around the baby, that for everyone’s safety my dog would need to spend most of his time in a crate with a strict schedule of feeding, walking and play. We were willing to do this, I love him so much. As I said, we were so hopeful. We spent the money, we took the time, we isolated ourselves, we blamed the victims, we blamed ourselves. Then, just last week on a walk, I picked him up to bring him down the steep stairs of our apartment and he went for my face, then my arms and legs. He followed by attacking the friend that agreed to watch him for a few days while we figured something out. This is the hardest decision I have ever made. I have cried so many tears. But no one wins here. He has no quality of life. We have no quality of life.

Teri Ann Oursler, DVM
December 19, 2017

Dorothy, I am sorry you are having such a hard time with the death of Teddy.  2 months is not all that long of a time to grieve, we all have our own timeline for grieving.  If you are not just grieving, but 'consumed with guilt' as you state, maybe it is time to find someone to help you work through these thoughts.  A grief counselor?  A clergyman if you are part of a church? Euthanasia is never an easy decision to make and certainly I have had days of doubt about my decision to euthanize any of my animals (did I do it too soon, not soon enough?). Could I have done more treatments? Another thought:  sit down and write down the pros and cons of your decision, so you can read it again and again.  You did not euthanize Teddy lightly, you just need help remembering why and how sick he really was.  And mentally ill dogs are sick and not living a good quality of life. If I can do anything to help, please reach out.

December 19, 2017

Hi, I need to reach out again because I am still consumed with guilt for ending our beautiful young dog Teddy's life two months ago. I know it was not our fault but the neglect of the "breeder" that ruined his puppyhood, and thus his ability to cope in adult life, however, I still cry every day and cannot find comfort. Has anyone read my story? So sorry if I am being a nuisance. With all my thoughts and good wishes for anyone going through this hell. Dorothy.

Phyllis DeGioia
December 18, 2017

Hi Casey, Your situation is a difficult one, and I'm sorry to hear you are in such a predicament. I understand how difficult it is. One of the things I have learned in the years since this was published is that many people - myself included - don't/didn't see the situation from other people's point of view. So let's just take a quick look at what you've indicated. 1 - your dog just bit your 5-yr old daughter on the lip 2- he bit your husband on the forehead, so that's at least two potentially disfiguring bites that thankfully weren't worse 3-Ringo still barks nervously at your husband, who he has lived with for a decade, and other men 4-He has panic attacks during which anything could happen 5-He attacks the other dog in the house, bites at the cat, and he's afraid of other dogs so he can't go on walks 6- You can't have people over 7- A trainer spent 6 months working with him and he didn't improve 8-Medication didn't help 9-Everyone in the family is walking on eggshells 10-You cannot change your routine 11- your trusted veterinarian has recommended euthanasia 12 - he has now started to growl at your and the kids too, so his fear and aggression are now escalating 13 - you worry about the long-term effect living with him will have on your children (thankfully they have a dog and cat that they like) 14 - you love him with all your heart - not stated, but obvious. The only thing I can think of that you  have not done is see a veterinary behaviorist, someone with more education than a trainer. Unfortunately, there isn't even one in each state, so they are difficult to see, and they should see the dog in your home.  Have you also thought about the legal and financial liability of owning such a dog? I understand all too well the small daily, accommodating choices we make while living with such a dog, and after a few  years you look back and wonder how your life became ruled by this poor dog's fear and anxiety. Personally, I don't think living in a crate while riddled with fear and anxiety has any quality of life to it. If I think about what it's like to be anxious and afraid all the time, it makes me sad and upset, so while everyone will have their own opinion, my answer to your question would be no, he doesn't have much quality of life, and yours is quite negatively impacted by his. In my view, his behavior is exacerbating and only likely to get worse. It's not his fault that he's fearful and anxious - many people are born that way too. If it were me, I'd go with the veterinarian's recommendation. Remember what Dr. Gaspar says: "Death is the ultimate loss but not the ultimate harm." My heart is with you, Casey.

December 16, 2017

Hello! Thank you for your very thoughtful article. We are in the middle of trying to make decisions about our 10 year old Jack Russell mix, Ringo. We adopted Ringo's brother, Stitch, when he was 6 months old. 6 months later, the shelter called and asked if we could foster his brother who "was having a hard time adjusting at the shelter." Being a young couple with no kids, we agreed. Ringo was highly anxious, afraid of my husband and any other men. He was nervous around children. He was deathly afraid of other dogs and, strangely, basketballs. We never heard from the shelter, we were suckers and he wasn't their problem anymore. We bought a new house with a fenced yard, partially so that he wouldn't have to go on neighborhood walks which often ended in growling and panic attacks. We had our first child, who Ringo surprisingly accepted as long as they were safely apart. Over the years he snapped at my son and bit my husband on the eyebrow, but it could always be reasoned as someone made a mistake and upset him/scared him. We had a trainer come to the house for 6 months, she eventually told us there was nothing she could do for him. We tried anxiety medication, to no effect. We had a daughter, nothing much changed with Ringo. Now, ten years later, Ringo still barks fearfully at my husband every time he enters a room. He tries to bite the cat. He attacks his brother, seemingly at random. He has started peeing giant puddles in the house with no medical cause (we've paid for every test our vet can imagine), he digs and climbs to escape the fenced yard if left outside just a few minutes longer than he wanted, he constantly tries to steal food. Lately he has started to growl, snarl, and generally show aggression towards me and the kids, who are now 7 and 5. They have grown up walking on eggshells around this dog, always knowing where he is so that they can keep a safe distance. We don't have friends or family over because Ringo can't handle it. We stick to a very particular  routine to keep him as happy as possible. Yesterday, when I was brushing my teeth in a nearby bathroom, Ringo put his paws up on the table and tried to steal my daughter's breakfast plate. She said "No, Ringo!" and he bit her on the lip, drawing blood, but, thankfully, not requiring stitches. We are at wit's end. What is his quality of life staying in a crate to avoid peeing on things and now even more to keep the family safe? What's our quality of life constantly living in fear and anxiety? Could I live with the guilt if my inaction and affection for Ringo led to major injuries to our kids, other pets, or visitors? What if my children grow up afraid of dogs because of this experience? All of these thoughts, and my very trusted veterinarian, are telling me that euthanasia is the best of all terrible options.

December 11, 2017

Dear Amber, Non of this is your fault, and there are people more expert than me who I am sure can help you and answer your questions but I can identify with what you say because my dog Teddy would never have hurt me, but we could no longer protect him from himself because of his behaviour towards others, this included not only other people and animals outside of the household but also our other dogs. We live a fairly quiet life but we do have passers-by, delivery men, neighbours call etc. Also the alpha dog theory is now thought to be a myth and there are plenty of articles online on this subject. I am still hurting so much but I want to reassure you because my husband and I now have a more peaceful and less worrisome existence as do our other pets. Every good wish, Dorothy

December 10, 2017

I am at my wit's end, but I have not made the decision to put my dog down because I feel like I have failed him. Five years ago, I bought a German Shepherd. He showed signs of aggression early on, and I got him into obedience class around 4 months of age. I socialized him, I trained him, but around 6 months, around the time I got him fixed, he started being real fear aggressive. He is also super possesive of me. He will not lot anyone touch me or even hand something to me. Thankfully, the one thing he is not aggressive about is his food. He has sensitive stomach issues, so getting him to eat is a challenge. For the last 5 years, I have been very, very careful with my dog. I can only take him for a walk in a very small part of the town because too many people let their dogs run loose. I fenced in a small section of the backyard, but I can't afford to do the whole thing and I also live on a hill so the backyard is very hill and not that suitable for fencing in. We tried anti-anxiety meds, but they made him listless and lethargic. I have also been working with the same behaviorist for the last 5 years, but nothing we try has worked. I resigned myself a long, long time ago to the fact that I will never have a normal dog. Despite all his issues, though, I've always felt like it was something I could handle until recently. I don't think people realize how hard it is to keep an aggressive dog. Since I am the only one who can handle him, I cannot go anywhere.  No vacations, no visiting friends. Every time we are out on a walk, I have to be on alert at all times for other people and loose dogs. I keep citronella spray in my pocket in the event of loose dogs, but it is so stressful every time it happens. Recently,  he has taken to attacking my mother whom I live with. He doesn't bite, just barks and jumps, but he weighs 105 pounds, so he still posses a threat and I'm always constantly worried he's going to bite her now. I've always said one and one. The first time he bites someone, that's it. But I don't want it to get to that point. I am at that point where I no longer feel like I can handle this, and I don't know what to do. This is not the first time I have considered putting him down. But I feel so guilty.  I feel like this is my fault. I feel like he turned out this way because maybe I wasn't a confident alpha when he was a pup, so he became dominant because of it. I feel like I maybe didn't train him enough or I don't know, there has to be something I did wrong. I am constantly stressed out and on edge because of this recent problem. Moving out would fix at least one problem, but no one wants to rent to a person with a German Shepherd,  let alone an aggressive GSD. And I can't afford to buy a house. But if I put him down, then I would feel so guilty because I should have down more to move out. It would be my fault I had to put him down because I couldn't come up with a solution to get us out of here. I just don't know what to do anymore. The recent aggression problem is starting to affect my relationship with my dog, too. I still love him, and I hate to say this, but the recent problems have made me love my dog less and I am starting to resent the situation. I know he cannot help his behavior. And I know this is all my fault.  I just don't know what to do anymore, especially since he is not a threat to me at all.

December 1, 2017

Dear Phyllis, I have read and re-read your article many times and it gave me much comfort and reassurance in our own situation, thank you for that. You took the only possible action with your dog Dodger, and I cannot imagine why anyone would want to criticize you. My husband and I decided we had to euthanaze our beautiful fawn lurcher (greyhound cross) mid October. He had bitten a delivery man, tried to scale a fence to attack people and dogs several times, frightened a young postman and two neighbours, jumped up and scratched a young friend's little boy's face, had my disabled husband on the ground and injured him, sliced a puppy's lip open, we had our whippet sewn up three times - temporarily blinded our tough little Jack Russell terrier after hurling her against a building that is it in a nutshell really. He was desperate to greet anyone in his strange way but it was always with extreme excitement or borderline aggression at best. The woman we bought him from said he had been shut in a shed for 2 months when we got him, this would have been from 8-9 weeks until 18 weeks when he came to us. We had our doubts at the time but felt sorry for him and thought we could make it up to him. Little did we know. He didn't respond well to training and was the most difficult dog we had ever known, hair trigger reactions and not particularly interested in  pleasing us. Treats made no difference, recall hit and miss, he reacted extremely to any stimuli, even though we live in a mostly quiet rural village it can be eventful at times. The only way we could comfort during one of his meltdowns was to intercept him if we could physically act quickly enough and soothe him until the target passed. Repeated exposure to regular passers-by only made him more furious. He was a big powerful dog weighing nearly 70 lbs and solid muscle, we really struggled as we are not as young as we used to be. He was one of the most beautiful animals we have ever known but we couldn't carry on and realised he was getting worse and that sooner or later we would slip up and he would bite someone else, then it could have been out of our hands if the authorities were involved. We live in the UK. Our lovely vet fully supported us in our decision but we are in pieces, me in particular. I need to find a way to memorialise him but we didn't keep anything of his and I find it too painful to look at photos just now. I contacted a gentleman on Facebook who bought one of our dog's litter mates and he said he was the most challenging dog he had ever owned of any breed, he even tried to send his dog back to the "breeder". He told us our dog was ruined before we even got him due to his neglect as a pup. Lurchers and greyhounds and normally known for their equable temperament.  Thank you so much for reading my ramblings. Lastly, the change in our other dogs is evident, they are more playful and confident - I feel that we were all watching our backs before. His name was Teddy.  Heartbroken, Dorothy

Phyllis DeGioia
November 29, 2017

Jamie, I'm sorry you're experiencing this situation, but am very pleased that the article helps you look around the situation from different perspectives. It really does help. The pain is difficult no matter what, but I think it's easier to deal with if you think everything through. It does get better eventually, trust me, although we all move to our own time table.

November 29, 2017

I am so glad I came across your article. Like many others, I recently was attacked by my baby girl Tora. We didn't know she had aggression issues until we got home from the shelter we adopted her from. Originally she was aggressive with smaller dogs, then she started bullying our other dog Archie, my father in law, and a few days ago as I was laying in bed with my husband, I reached to pet her and without warning clenched on my right hand. I had to go to the ER to get stitches and my husband and I made the heartbreaking choice to euthanize her as her aggressiveness was getting worse. I am struggling with the emotional side of things as you were with your attack, and I only hope it gets better. But your story truly helped me think of our decision from a different perspective. Thank you so much for sharing.

Phyllis DeGioia
November 28, 2017

Nancy, I'm incredibly sorry to hear about Oscar and your son; I know the heartache all too well. Many of our commenters have experienced a similar situation. You are far from alone in this, as you say, although I realize that doesn't help at this point. It's possible there is a medical explanation, and it's possible the cause is brain chemistry ("wired wrong"). Whatever the cause is, the reality is difficult. Of course you still love your dog, even after such an attack, as I still loved Dodger. Let the tears flow - the situation certainly is appropriate for them.  I can't tell you how much I cried, and for how long. It's a tsunami of tears. I hope you have read all the comments so you can see the situations others have experienced, as I think it's helpful to do so while we struggle. Unique as each situation and dog is, they all boil down to the same sad story: the dog is fine most of the time, we thought we could manage around it, this bite was the worst ever, I don't know what to do. My heart is with you. I do believe that Dodger is resting in peace.

November 27, 2017

I cried when I read your story. I am going through the same situation with our dog, Oscar. He is a 3 year old American Eskimo and we got him when he was just a puppy. He is a beautiful, smart, funny, loyal boy, and a part of our family that we love dearly. He was a great dog for the first year we had him. He loved people, children, and other dogs. Right after he was neutered it seemed that things began to change. His first bite incident occurred just days after the surgery. He bit a friend of the family as she entered our home. He had met this women in the past and was fine around her. The bite was without warning and completely unprovoked. We decided that it had probably happened because she was too close to my younger son, who Oscar has always been protective over. We assumed this was an isolated incident and kept a closer eye on him. Time went by and everything seemed normal with him. People came and went from our home and he didn't show any aggression. Until about 4 months later when he bit another guest, then a month later my boyfriend. He also began acting aggressively to our other dogs. And most noticeably, he started resource guarding over me. No one could come close to me or touch me without him growling. At this time we began installing numerous gates around the house and keeping him completely isolated from everyone except myself and my two sons. We would remove him from any situation we thought to be causing him stress and I would sit with him somewhere quiet until he seemed calm. Everyone knew that they were not to get too close to me or touch me in his presence. And also, no running or jumping around near him, as this also seemed to set him off. We have taken every step possible to stop these bites from occurring and to be honest be have now came to the point that our whole lives are centered around avoiding any more incidents. We know his triggers, and have taken care to ensure that he is NEVER around guests in our home. We had one bite occur one time when he was not secured before a friend of my son's entered the house, but other than that nothing. We thought we had it figured out and would just live this way forever and it was worth it to be able to keep Oscar with us. It did seem as though his aggressiveness had been escalating. Last night he attacked one of our other dogs worse than ever and I had a really hard time breaking them up.  Then today the unimaginable happened. My younger son, Matt, who is 12 was in my room watching tv with me. He was sitting on my bed next to Oscar, and as he went to get up, he apparently got too close to me, and Oscar just snapped. He charged at Matt, knocking him off the bed, and began attacking him relentlessly. By the time I was able to pull Oscar off, Matt had a huge gash in his face, his sweatshirt was torn open and he had other cuts on his face and ear. He was rushed to the hospital and received 17 stitches in his cheek. Oscar is going to be quarantined starting tomorrow and after that I don't know what will happen. I feel my only sound option is to have him euthanized. If I had not been there to stop him from attacking Matt, I don't know what would have happened. Even after this attack, I still love my dog with all of my heart, as I know he doesn't do these things on purpose. He can't help it, its just the way he is wired. For 3 years he has slept at the foot of Matt's bed, gone for walks with Matt, been Matt's protector, loved Matt. Then today, a switch was flipped and he hurt his best friend. I am heartbroken to know that Oscar will not be here after tonight. The dog that I raised from a little puppy and adore almost as much as my own kids. I know most people would think it sounds crazy after what was done to still feel this way about him, but he is part of my life and family. I feel as though I have let my son down today. I have let Oscar down. I have let myself down. When I read your story, I pictured how I will feel looking back on all of this when he is gone and I started to cry. If there was any other way I would do it without question. But I cannot allow this to go on knowing a tragedy could be just around the corner. It is a horrible situation that I wouldn't wish on anyone and I feel that it is a lose-lose no matter what happens. Its just a matter of choosing between bad and worse. But to anyone who has or is or will go through this just know you are not alone and there are people out there who do understand. And Rest In Peace Dodger.

November 26, 2017

I cannot stop the rewinding memory of what just took place on Thanksgiving day.  Everyone knows that pit bull has bitten several people already.  But my sister is unreasonable and very self centered.  She is a nurse and her husband a doctor.  They chose to have that dog in the house with babies afoot.  The youngest baby was bitten and ripped with a jagged, three directional tear just below the eye and into her cheek.  They scooped that baby up and my brother in law took her to the clinic where he works and put ten stitches in himself.  No report was made and the family went directly into a very odd sort of denial.  I cannot stop the picture of the attack from playing over and over in my head.  My sister knows I want that dog put down and says, "that just isn't going to can I help you feel better about this".  I will not be going to my sister's house again while that dog is alive.  He is a massive pit bull that is in obvious discomfort with multiple stitched up scars from surgical removals of lesions that burst open regularly spurting blood.  My sister even showed me a video on her phone of the most recent blood dripping episode.  I am just at a loss about how to prevent the next attack by that dog.  She is unreasonable and self centered and a bit 'off' in the head in my opinion.  I am horrified knowing this will happen again and it will be worse next time.

November 15, 2017

In seven hours we will euthanize our beloved dog. He gave us joy 99.9% of the time. Smart, loyal, playful. But nine times in just over two years he has bitten.  Me twice. Never serious but they always broke the skin and several times required stiches. We never knew when he’d snap. My anguish is sever. He’s my friend. He’s my dog.  We talked with multiple trainers and vets and this was the professional opinion. I don’t know how long it will take me and my family to get past this but I pray that you’ll never have to make this decision.

November 13, 2017

My teenage daughter and i are facing a crisis with our dog, Rocky, who is a pitbull.  We have had since since he was 9 weeks old and raised gently. He was neutered while a puppy and raised with a smaller dog the same age.  He is gentle with his dog brother, but he has gotten out a couple of times and has attacked other large dogs.  Yesterday, he bolted out the door and went to a neighbors yard, somehow got in the fence and attacked a husky mix.  I am facing several charges, and will be paying the vet bill of the other dog.  Rocky has been impounded for 10 days. My daughter and I are not sure if we will trust having Rocky back again because we worry something has flipped in him and we can't take chances.  This dog has been the sweetest house companion and has never been a problem until now.  It will hurt me so bad to surrender him because I know he won't find a home because he will be so anxious so we are wondering if it is best for him to euthanize him.  We just don't know what is the right thing to do.

Phyllis DeGioia
November 5, 2017

Michelle, Absolutely no one here would ever blame you. You endured a very difficult circumstance. I'm going to ask our veterinarian/therapist, Dr. Michele Gaspar, to contact you privately. I can tell you that medication did not change Dodger's circumstances. In my opinion, the people who tell you that you didn't do the right thing are wrong. They didn't live in your shoes, didn't understand the depth of the  issue, and they ignore Cosette's quality of life. How horrible for her to live in such a difficult mental state. As I quoted Dr. Gaspar in the original article, death is the ultimate loss but not the ultimate harm. You protected yourself, and human safety must always come first. You will likely hear from Dr. Gaspar within a few days. Please take care of yourself.

Michelle A Cory
November 5, 2017

Hi,  I wrote a few years ago,  and still having some trouble forgiving myself.  Due to adding some medication  for my ptsd and ocd,  I am a lot better.  Sometimes i'm triggered and feel overwhelmed.  when I had adopted Cosette  she had stared to bite at the no-kill shelter.  Only one person who worked there had the decency to tell me,  and she was out the day i did what i wasn't supposed to do and adopted Cosette,  i couldldn't bear after her bath, to put her back in the desheveld runner. As i was walking out the door , people were telling me not to take her to the dog park,  and only pet her on top of er head.   I didn't know why they were saying this,   but i was careful.  I brought her home, and she was jumpy and not socialized. She had problems with separation,  so i tried to take her everywhere.  She was afraid of getting in and out of the car.  our first encounter bite,  was my stupidity , trying to put a raincoat on her.  Next I was on my cell and dropped it.  when i leaned over to pick it up she lunged at my hand and held it for what seemed like 2 whole minutes.  my fingers were bruised with slight skin tears. The pain was horrible.  after that the episodes came often always with extreme pain, ,mabe twice a week when trying to reach out to her , or going near her feet  but most of the time she was good with me.   I had 2 trainers , one the shelter reccomended  and he was useless,  then someone from Bark busters,  she made some progress,  but quit,  and said she had done all she could. Backtracking a moment  before adopting cosette m maltese who was 12 and never bit me, had developed a brain disorder, and charged me every night,  when i'd call her off the patio, because she couldnt stop barking,  I was afraid someone would  shoot her. This went on until i was told she would kill me from infection.   So having had just gone thru this trauma,  i wanted to fix Cosette,  but couldn't take the trauma of the bites.       After 1 year with Cosette,  i should have known to leave her home, but i took her with me for a ride., to the store,  i put her in a stroller, and everything was fine.  when we left the store I went to take her out of the stroller and she froze and it me 4 times with punctures.   because we were in a public place the store manager called the police.  They taped my hand and tried to get her out of the stroller and couldnt.  Animal control came and i sent them away,  she was not going back to the shelter to be in solitary confinement.  and she was not being taken to a shelter where they would euthanise her possibly w/o anestesia.   Before this i had tried rescue remedy to no avail.  and had also made arange ments to board her with agility training for 5 weeks,  while i went away to emotionally heal. I was so happy that it was only 1500 dollars.  she was going to get better. so back to the police  episode,  2 months before my plans for her stay. The police and animal control mixed me all up, and i was hysterical   still in shock from what she had done to me.  I wasn't knowledged in cues from dogs.  I went outside and from the back of her stroller i said, Cosette it's mommy,  there was a load growl.  i knew she did not want me near her. When the police  finally figured a way to get the stroller in  the car  i drove her to my vet,  with out once looking at her,  screaming and crying all the way,  in bewilderment.  And why was i alone in this.  why werent there any friends to help me. We took her in to the vets and i didnt look at her, and asked them to euthanise her.  i was still in shock.  My regret :  i did not take her to a vet behaviorist for medication.  How could i not do that and give her a second chance at happiness.  especially since i had been saved  by medicine.  After having to euthanise to dogs for biting,  me and others  my neighbor said i shouldn't have a dog because i euthanise them all.  tose words stuck with me like a knife.  For six months i wanted to be dead with my dogs.  Everyone who has helped me,  has been close friends and medicine. any thoughts on my situation are deeply appreciated.  please no blaming.

September 25, 2017

My fiance has been in the hospital for the past couple of days due to be attacked by my 95% of the time loving, wonderful cat and 5% extremely aggressive. When my cat started taking out his aggression on his cat brother, I did everything I could to create peace in our home again. Vets, behavioral training, medication, pet psychics, soft music, the works! However, when an outburst turned into an extremely serious and dangerous episode, my vet and I are arranging euthanasia. Thank you for so vulnerably and openly sharing your experience. I do not want anyone else to suffer due to my cat's illness, including my cat, and definitely including anyone else. I take solace in reading your article, I've already read it a few times and I sense I will read it many more times again. May these sweet, loving beings who have been euthanized due to serious aggression challenges Rest In Peace.

Phyllis DeGioia
September 11, 2017

Here's another article on the subject that you might want to read, written by a dog trainer.

Phyllis DeGioia
September 7, 2017

Hi Arlene, I understand that the emotional wounds are bigger; I was nearly hysterical the first time my dog bit me. Remember, it's entirely possible that there is a medical cause for Boomer's behavior, so in addition to the behaviorist, I suggest a medical examination for him. I wish you the best of luck with Boomer - keep us posted. My heart is with you.

September 6, 2017

Hi Phyllis...I read your article Euthanizing Aggressive Dogs: Sometimes It's the Best Choice and i'm still crying. My dog Boomer, a 21-month old mongrel, bit me and my father last night. Unprovoked. We ended up at the ER. Wounds were not big, but  the emotional wound is bigger, and deeper. A dog behaviorist is visiting later to check if Boomer can still be changed. Im afraid to hear him say that he cannot change him, but after reading your article, i felt a little hope (though with guilt) in my heart that i hear him say that. Boomer is the love of my life. He is my ipad's wallpaper, the last creature i talk to in the evening and the first one in the morning. I shared my problems with him. You got the picture I'm sure. Not sure though how I will feel should the actual day, minute and second come...

Phyllis DeGioia
August 24, 2017

Hi Greg, I'm sorry that you, your wife, and Banks are going through this. You are right that it is not his fault and not your fault, and you have done much to help him. From my perspective, any dog that has his history cannot go to a rescue or be rehomed; although your safety would be assured, someone else's is not, including the people who work for the rescue. As Dr. Gaspar says, escalating behavior is not good in any species, and Banks's behavior has escalated. Plus, being rehomed would add significantly to his stress and fear, increasing the possibility of another episode. I know you know all this, but I wanted to emphasize it. I understand how much you love Banks, especially with the deep connection with Trevor, and I understand the emotions that go along with considering euthanasia. It's an agonizing place to be.  I can tell you that at this point that when I think of Dodger now, I think of happy moments, not the difficult ones. Time heals if you let it. My heart is with you -

Greg Smith
August 23, 2017

Thank you for sharing both your own experience and those of your readers.  My family is in the midst of resolving our Boy's predicament.  Banks came to us as a 2&1/2 year old lab, Alaskan cross.  At his heaviest he weighed 85lbs, we have him down to a trim 72 or so.  originally from a Rescue in the North West of BC he has come across the country to live with us in TO.  His original human mom put him up for free as she was newly single and had no space fro Dog, career and BFs in the same small apt.  We have had our boy for three years now. He came to us the same summer my Brother fell ill.  Trevor,( my brother), passed away that fall. I would tell Trev, of our escapades with Banks, and would have loved to have showed our proud fella. We knew that he had Dominant tendencies and took a series of behavioral training courses to assist our family in awareness and provide tools fro socializing him better.  We had mild success, and unfortunately made poor excuses for his sometimes poor behavior. He is loveable, happy and always ready for a walk or lively play. However in recent days his usual demeanor has changed around my wife and he has bitten her twice in 3 weeks. The second more serious than the 1st, and both required trips to the emergency room for stiches.  We had spoken to our go to "Dog whisperer" and were looking for options on what to do next without taking the measures you have so bravely written about.  I had Banks removed from our home yesterday after he escalated his testing of the pack order with me yesterday.  I had taken all dog duties away from my wife while waiting for some real direction on next steps. A silly excuse for putting off what really has already been decided. He can not be allowed to bite again.  It is not his fault, not our fault , it just is what needs to be done.  We would like to think that there is a rescue out there that may take him.  Banks is not currently presenting any outward aggression in the facility he is boarded now, but with a bite history the odds of placing him are low.  I am guilt ridden with both what my wife has gone through and what most likely awaits Banks, but fro everyone's safety there is only one real choice now.

Susan Morrison
August 23, 2017

Tracy: Please think about getting another opinion from another behavioral expert. Your puppy is only 8 mos old and if he was never aggressive until after he was attacked, he may need time to adjust, and he may still be in pain which may account for his aggression.  Just remember, when he's gone, you can't change your mind. Be sure; I'm still not sure that I was when I had to make the decision and I've been tormented over it for 3 years. But, if you decide that this is what you need to do, try to be good to yourself and to forgive yourself.

Alondra R
August 19, 2017

I'm in a deep state of depression as it has been decided that its best for my dog to be put down. My dog is my everything, my baby boy cyan, I got his birthday tattooed on me the first year I had him, always celebrated his birthday, always gave him a Christmas gift, and always gave him all my love. He slept with me on my bed every night I loved him so goddamn much... he always had aggressive tendencies because of his anxiety towards others even as a pup but it only got worse as time progressed and the final straw was the day he decided to bite my husband... it was terrifying, I wish it never happened. Not looking forward to the day the when he will be put down but it's for the best. I'm all cried out I wish that day when he bit would've never happened! At least he'll be in peace and out of his anxiety crazed mind. I need so much help I don't know how to cope with this. I don't know what to do, I hate this. If he were to pass away naturally it would hurt yes but at least I wouldn't have it in my mind that it was my choice, unlike getting him euthanized. I will always love him and carry him in my heart..

August 18, 2017

My two dogs and I while on our nightly walk were attacked by two large dogs who were not leashed. My puppy who is 8 months old, took the brunt of the attack. He is traumatized. Less than a week later, a neighbour entered our property unannounced. He bit her. He knew her. I took him out of the city to a quiet acreage, and contacted a behavioral trainer. I've been told this morning that my best options are to euthanize him, or surrender him (but he wont be adoptable so he will be confined at a no-kill shelter) I am utterly shocked. I am reading everything I can, between sobbing uncontrollably. The thing that struck me the most was how the trainer explained to me that it in no nice terms would be cruel torture to keep him because it's not possible to give him the stress-free life he needs. Even if I poured all of  the available resources. It would be managing his extreme fear until the day he passes. That it was only going to intensify because he is soon coming up to sexual maturity. Everything I read tells me I have to make the hardest choice of all. I sobbed, and he comes over and licks my face and lays on my lap. I don't know how I will recover from this.

August 8, 2017

Our dog bit my son in the face. He put him on his chain. Dog jumped up and bit hos face.We had to start chaining him because he started chasing horses down the road. I want to put him down.thanks for your honesty. I also have a prechoooler and a baby. Dog needs to go.

Mary Lou Ilgenfritz
August 8, 2017

I want to share this with my Granddaughter her dog is very aggressive and she loves him but now she is scared. Thank you Mary Lou

Beth A. Berger
July 19, 2017

Thank you for your article and all the posted comments. . . It deeply saddens my heart, but tomorrow we will put down our 2 year old boy "Ruger".  Ruger is a lab/border collie mix.. My son got Ruger from a so called "Rescue" place where all it consisted of was a broken down garage on a lot with a drive.   When my son got him he was in this garage with a lot of other pups and dogs of all mixed breeds.  Ruger since day one always had a food aggression, (probably because in that garage it was feast or starve and every pup for himself.  My son took Ruger to the vet . . he was loaded with worms that took over four months to get rid of.  She also told us she thought Ruger was only about six week old.  Ruger was very protective of his food, you could not go near him when he was eating or had a treat.  He also nipped or tried biting anyone that got near what he had . . toys included.  As far as 95% of the time Ruger is a great dog. . but there is that 5% of the time where he just is not himself.  My son went to give him a hug one night. . .like he has done about 1000 times and Ruger turned around and latched on and bit him . . tearing his finger up.  . only to let go and then look at you like "what did I just do"  and continue on to lick him and follow him around like a shadow.  We brushed this off as an isolated instance.  But this continued to happen more and more and this past weekend. . I was picking up his toys to vacuum and he lunged and bit my hand and fingers. .  letting go again and then looked at me like what did I just do...  I needed to go to the hospital as this bite was severe.  My son and I talked to our Vet .. she stated there are behavioral management classes, but there is no guarantee that he will not bite again, not knowing where he came from and his  parents history.  We thought about giving him away, but do not want to give him to another family, knowing he has bit people and could possible maim someone. . .  Shelters won't take him because of the incidents and we don't want to put him in a shelter to live a life in a cage and Knowing how we love our boy Ruger and spoil him, as a pet owner should . . The uncertainty we would feel not knowing if some one else would give him the love and understanding that we have given him over the past two years.  Our only choice is to lovingly put him down and keep him with us for all eternity.  It saddens me and makes me ill to think about tomorrow and what is about to take place . . . but I feel we have given him 2 years he might not have had and we loved him with everything we could and gave him everything he could have wanted as a dog. . . a great home, boat rides, swimming in the lake, sleeping with us, frisbee time, tons of toys and treats and best of all our heart.  It is a very difficult decision and one I wished we did not have to make.  RUGER YOU ARE LOVED AND WE WILL MISS YOU

July 15, 2017

Thank you for sharing your story with such intimate details. After 1.5 years of hard work under the instructions of our veterinary behaviorist and force-free trainer, including the use of meds, our beautiful boy Buster, who is a 2.5-year-old Formosan Mountain Dog who came to us from Taiwan at 1-year-old, continues to get worse - more fearful, more reactive, more aggressive. He also has a bite history. Yesterday, we made the heartwrenching decision to euthanize him next week. It is devastating to know that no amount of love or wishing or hoping or hard work can help our boy get better. His start in life was out of his control and we could not overcome the damage done or the trauma suffered. But we cannot allow him to suffer every single day as his world shrinks smaller and smaller, and we cannot take the chance that even one tiny slip up in our management of him could irrepairably harm someone, including ourselves.

July 14, 2017

Wanted to say that by reading this article I believe that you changed my life.  I felt so many emotions as you did about having to euthanize a sweet loving dog that attacked to kill my other dog.  We kept her a year and two months and then she went after my other dog.  This time I was on guard my other dog I saved with only a few superficial wounds but she had his neck for a second kill.  The difference is before the first attack and after she never showed any signs of aggression which makes the decision worse.  But after God forbid her hurting my other dog I let her be euthanized.  Thank you for your story you have made me understand and feel better.  The scars will always make me sad but I know believe I did the right thing.

July 13, 2017

I am so thankful to all as I read all these articles. On Monday 10th July I euthanised my BELOVED English bull terrier at 5 years old. I am suffering from that day I haven't gone to work as she was the biggest love of my life. I devoted 5 years to her with absolutely no social life she was my world. As a pup she mauled a family member on the foot with 22 stitches in place. She bite me once and then bit the family member 2 more times the last one being Monday. The family member ended up in surgery. She was trained but somewhere she was scared of people and other dogs. We would avoid other dogs always and I never left her off the leash. She would growl at everything. She had a lot of fears with food guarding. If she had a pigs ear in her mouth don't go near her. Her daily happiness was me. If I was at work the dog fell in depression. Although she meant the world to me Monday's attack was the worst. I have died with her in my heart I lived her like I have never loved before. I breathed for her. We slept together we played together I gave her the best 5 years a mother could give a dog. I am in a lot of pain that will take a lot of time to heal I haven't even packed her toys or anything. All I do is cry and feel guilt. Our vet told us it had to be done as she always had aggression issues from a pup. My biggest mistake was buying her from a backyard breeder. I am thankful she was in my life I miss her but thinking logically she was unpredictable and a walking time bomb. I am totally a wreck I buried her in the back yard in her favourite blanket. I sit with her for hours everyday my whole life was revolved with her. It's a very hard decision but for her she was suffering with her anger daily everyday she was scared and angry. She will be in my heart till the day I die. I can't bare the pain of losing her and trying to cope 3 days now but she is resting now and doesn't have to live with her fears. Thanking you for your experiences and this page as it is really helping me cope with the big loss.

July 2, 2017

Thank you for writing this. I made the decision to euthanize my Weimaraner Malachi  2 years ago July 15th. What a sweet boy, even took his medications from a baby spoon (prescribed by the veterinarian specializing in animal behavior). Having to tell my sons was awful. But I realized no one should have to live afraid all the time. I got a Great Dane puppy 2 months ago. He has a lot of Malachi's sweet qualities without the aggression but I was also afraid I'd pick wrong again. Thank you. I'm glad to know I'm not alone in having to make that decision

July 1, 2017

I totally get all that you went through with Dodger. After examining all physical aspects, I had to release one of my dogs from what whatever haunted his brain (frontal lobe tumor). When his episodes of rage hit, you could see he wasn't there, after it was over he didn't know anything happened. He hadn't bitten anybody but the day he launched across a room at an infant with no provocation (infant was being held 15 feet away and not crying or fussing), making that call to the vet was a no brainer. No regrets. I know he wasn't well and he was dangerous. I wish other pet owners could be more honest and selfless about their dangerous pets.

June 30, 2017

I have been thinking about putting my gorgeous 3 year old boy to sleep!! His fear aggressive and resource guarding behaviour is getting worse. I am so torn with this decision, I love him dearly but also live in constant fear that he will hurt someone very badly one day. After 7 bites to different people and 1 nasty attack towards me in the last 3 years and the constant management and fear, I think something has to change. I have made so many excuses and isolated myself from my family and friends but the emotional stress and fear are becoming too much.....the only problem is I love him so much and will miss him dearly! I blame myself everyday for his behaviour.  I just wish things were different.

Michael Kistler
June 24, 2017

Thanks for the article-I currently have a dog that is aggressive and I am going through the thought process.  I think euthanasia is the right choice, now I just need to convince my wife.  He bit me today, and this behavior is escalating.  He is a dog with a lot of energy, so keeping him cooped up and away from things will not be a good life for him.  It sucks but I think it must be done to restore order to my household.

June 23, 2017

One week ago today my dog was euthanized. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I sobbed while holding him because I couldn't fix his fear aggression. One minute he was licking my face and then he lunged at me biting my arm. It was as if something snapped in his brain and he couldn't control himself. Afterwards he was wagging his tail. I will always remember him looking up at me with such trusting eyes while the vet injected him. It haunts me still. I'm tormented that I couldn't help him regain a normal demeanor.

June 20, 2017

I was mauled by a dog at a "no kill" rescue.  This was 3 1/2 years ago.  This dog has attacked 6 people and the rescue refuses to put the dog down.  He is registered with the county as a vicious dog and can only be walked by two people. The dog basically has his food slid under the gate and never gets out.  I feel so bad for him.  This is the best article I have ever read about this subject and it makes me want to shout it from the roof tops.  Thank you for making feel like I'm not a bad person for wanting this dog put out of his misery.

Phyllis DeGioia
June 20, 2017

Shannon - we are all so sorry for your loss and to hear that you were mauled. I hope you heal, both physically and emotionally. My heart is with you.

June 20, 2017

I could not relate to this article 2 years and 3 1/2 months ago, but sadly it took me being mauled by a dog that I loved to get me to the point where I totally agree.  There was no warning at all before suddenly I was fighting for my life against a dog that I truly loved.  Even more than the physical attack and wounds, the mental and emotional side of dealing with the fact that the attack was unprovoked AND the fact that it was by a dog that I loved and felt would have protected ME ....  is the hardest part to deal with.  I also own a similar breed of dog as the one that mauled me.  I sent mine to intense training and that totally changed how I will deal with any dog for the rest of my life.  I will never NOT train another dog.  With that being said, sadly, all are not savable.

Jan Kelly
June 20, 2017

Thank you for your story.It is an incredibly difficult decision to make as we love them so much. But at the end of the day you have to live with your decision. I refuse to rescue dangerous dogs as I believe that its the owners call to make and if they do not do the hard yards as you did they will make wrong decisions again. I am also on the technicians side re rescues being heroic and "saving" and rehabilitating dogs that should go to the Rainbow Bridge. Rehome the non problem dogs.

June 13, 2017

My husband and I are faced with this heartbreaking outcome. Our coonhound was adopted 4 years ago. He was found tied to a tree, malnourished and full of mange. His eyes were so sad and yet so willing to love us. Physically healthy but fearful of strangers that came to our home. We hired trainers and a behaviorist but his fearfulness created an environment that kept us fearful and constantly on edge. He attacked my sister, my husband and myself. He is currently at our vets and is scheduled to be euthanized this Friday. My heart is broken. My vet thinks his sudden attacks are due to a mental problem which he can't control. Intellectually I know it isn't safe to keep him but my heart is torn apart and the tears are real. Please keep my boy in your thoughts.

June 12, 2017

Thanks for sharing your story.Im currently facing having to make the hardest dicision of my life to put my boy down.Who is very human and animal aggressive.Its a decision I have been struggling with for months now.Never felt like such a failure as I've been unable to help my boy.

June 1, 2017

Thank you for sharing your story - it brought me many tears and hope. We will be losing our sweet but unpredictable aggressive Rudy next week. We know it's the right decision but it is leaving me sad and filled with guilt. Time heals all wounds...onward we go.

May 30, 2017

Thank you so much for sharing your experience with your beloved dog, Dodger.  Reading it allowed me to take a breath after sobbing.  I had to make "the last appointment" today for my precious Jack Russel mix, Mr. Hyde, whom I adopted 8 years ago. He bit me that first day, and only after was I told that he had been abused and had shown signs of fear aggression.  We worked a lot together to overcome it, but two days ago came another severe bite...I love him so much, and his joy for life and bouncy energy has brought me so much comfort and my own joy.  We have had good years and I know he and I have both done our best. Reading your story and updates helped me so much.  This is going to take every measure of courage, love, and responsibility that I have. Bless you and Dodger and your other pets.

May 8, 2017

Thanks so much for sharing this! We had to put down our Beagleman today and your article helped stop the tears that have been running down my face all morning. You helped me with my guilt for making the decision to euthanize my aggressive dog (4 attacks - 2 were unprovoked) by refocusing on my responsibility as a mother to protect my 2 small children. Just wanted to comment how appreciative I am. Blessings!

May 3, 2017

Today we put down our 8 year old Mix. I had fostered him beginning at 6 weeks old and he lived a pampered trauma-free life. Despite this he had major anxiety. I truely believe this was genetic. We took him to several professional dog trainers but he still had several incidents where he bit people including sending a relative to the ER on Thanksgiving for an unprovoked bite to the face. Now that we have toddlers in the picture and he has gone after them, it would be immoral and ridiculous to keep him in the home. We tried bringing him back to the no-kill shelter that he came from but they said he was too aggressive. The only option as a responsible pet owner was to euthanize him. If you would have told me I would get rid of an animal, let alone put down a healthy animal, 8 years ago, I would have said never ever. It is amazing how our beliefs can change through our life experiences. I will never judge anyone else's decisions either.

April 28, 2017

My 14 month GSD attacked my daughter yesterday. She is ok now but he got her hands and head. He's 115 lbs and he could have killed her. We immediately called animal control because we just can't tolerate this in our home. The attack was unprovoked and he was acting strange all day (not eating, biting at the air, etc).  They will evaluate him for 10 days and I guess then we have to make a decision. My husband will not let him come back in our home and I understand. It hurts so bad because I love that dog and I know he's so scared right now.  My family comes first but I'm just torn to pieces. Your article makes me feel better - we've always thought our GSD was wired differently.

Cris Simons
April 22, 2017

I have a 20 month old GSD that has attacked me twice. It is strange though in that it has only happened outside of our yard or home. He smelled a rabbit and when I went to lead him in the other direction he attacked, the same thing the second time. I can now only walk him with a muzzle and am seeking professional help. What is strange is that I can take a bone or his food away from him etc. It's irrational and seems uncontrollable.

April 21, 2017

I'm having issues with my 3 year old Rottweiler. He is food/toys aggressive. He attacked me while chewing on a elk antler. I was stunned to that incident. Approximately 2 months later he attacked a man in the hallway of a hotel. I don't understand what had provoked him doing this. Anyhow after speaking with our trainer, she suggested that t surrender him to a Rottweiler rescue. Then 1 more incident happened. While I was in the bathroom, I saw him act agressivly as a stranger was on the house, but it was my 80 year old mom coming into the dining room. My mom is deaf and was totally unaware what was going on. I gave him verbal commands to back off & down. Why is he doing this baffles me. If I hadn't been there, would of he mauled my mom? Thank you for your feedbacks. I have an appt with our vet this Sunday.  I'm afraid I already know what I need to do. And I'm not alone in this case.

March 29, 2017

To start - we already had 3 dogs. In August 2014 we adopted a one and a half year old dog from a local no kill shelter. We named her Molly. This is our 3rd rescue dog and we never had an issue with a shelter dog. Molly slept in our bed, as dogs do at my house. When I got up in the morning she was all wiggles and excited to see me, like I'd been away somewhere. She sat at my feet while I got ready for work and was my biggest cheerleader when I came home. It was a celebration. She was always out with me doing things outside and always wanted to "help". She loved to go for walks. Right away she displayed resource guarding of food. We already had a large crate so we fed Molly in the crate and the others in their usual spots. Problem solved. Things went smoothly, for a while. Over time she started to body block the other dogs from us. She started growling when one of the other dogs came near her which turned into growling at one of the other dogs for coming into the same room. She was also developing an aggression toward people. Walking her was challenging if people were outside. She bit my wife on four occasions. One time leaning over to pet her - bit her face but didn't draw blood. Another time when trying to keep her away from the door when the UPS guy was there. This time was multiple puncture wounds on the arm. She bit me once, while trying to put her on the bathtub for a bath. Not a bad bite but it did draw blood. She violently attacked our 14 year old collie mix on several occasions. She attacked the border collie twice. The collie mix was the main target. These attacks were usually spaced months apart. Although, towards the end, there was an escalation in frequency and severity. In her last 6-8 months, when reaching to pet Molly she would sometimes growl and show teeth (mostly with my wife). Usually she didn't do that. You never knew. She was becoming unpredictable and I didn't trust her. Her aggression towards dogs and people was getting out of control. She growled at our other dogs constantly. Our golden retriever mix and Molly were buddies. They always played together and she was always spared Molly's wrath. On Saturday, Molly went after the golden - for walking by her. It was an extremely vicious attack. It was all I could do to get Molly off of her. That was it. I was done. Molly was euthanized Monday, March 27, 2017. There are other instances. These are the ones that come to mind as I type this. All of this evolved over two and a half years. She never bit anyone but me and my wife, but not for lack of want. I don't know why she changed the way she did. I don't know what she experienced the first year and a half of her life. In hind sight, something seemed "off" with her from the beginning. I was with Molly at the end. It was terribly painful and absolutely heartbreaking. Even though I know I did the right thing, I feel like I failed my dog, I feel like I murdered my dog. I loved Molly. The guilt I feel is beyond words. I think maybe we did rescue her - from herself. She is free of her demons. Despite what she became, I won't forget what a sweetie she could be.

Kimberly Conklin
March 27, 2017

We are having to make that decision today. Today was the fourth time our male Pit attacked one of our other dogs. I know it will take a long time to get over this. He is such a loving dog.

Madelien D
March 20, 2017

First of all, Frederick I am so sorry for what has happened to you. We have a male neutered daschund rescue for nearly 10 years and about 2 years ago rescued a male English Bull terrier. We had him neutered. We have been to several behaviour experts because he has aggression problems - he have been expelled from two doggy day cares and a walking group because of his aggression. 99.9 % he is the most lovable dog in the world but on those odd occasion he goes crazy. I feel so awful because I love him so much, like I let him down and being selfish because I don't want to deal with my " difficult dog". I am afraid that he might kill my little dachhund... Because he is surely capable of it. I love them both so much.

Eva Pedersen
March 10, 2017

So many difficulties with the tone of this article or, rather, memoir... If the final decision is to put down a dog because of aggression that is thought to be unmanageable I would hope that would come after the dog and the human are assessed by an expert, and I emphasize the word expert, in dog behaviour. As a mental health professional and a dog lover/owner of some high maintenance dogs, I find it completely inappropriate to describe dogs has having psychiatric illnesses. They are driven by some very basic instinctual needs and do not have the complex brains and minds that we have. This way of describing and defining dog behaviour shows the extreme ignorance of the animal and natural world and it's laws. Not uncommon though... So many people are completely ignorant of the laws of nature and don't work and operate within them but assume they will operate within our worlds. Very hard piece to read overall...

Fred M.
March 6, 2017

I want to thank the author and everyone that was posted comments to this page.  My faithful companion of 5 years, an English Bull Terrier, recently attacked and killed our 13 year old Yorkie.  Food was involved, and I blame myself for not realizing what was about to happen.  I am trying to find a rescue to possibly help my companion Oliver, but I suspect their advice will be to euthanize him.  He has never gone after a human, but the thought of it happening is too frightening. I cried for hours last night, and at one point he started licking the tears from my face, and even made a moanful sound that I had never heard from him.  The pain is more than I can bear, but your words have provided some level of courage to face what I have to do.

February 27, 2017

Thank you everyone that has commented. I feel a little better about the situation that my boyfriend and I have had to deal with. 2 years ago we adopted a 10 month old pit mix for 100.00 off of Craigslist. We named him yoshi. The couple we bought him from off of Craigslist stated they were allergic to him and had to keep him outside all summer and could no longer keep him. We live in Phoenix and did not have time to react but a dog kept outside all the time in the summer in Phoenix was so sad to us and he was so cute. He has orange and white spotted short fur and is around 55 pounds. We took him right away without a second thought. He didn't have any of his shots and he wasn't fixed so right away we registered him, vaccinated him and got him fixed. Yoshi had a lot of energy and needed lots of exercise. We had a hard time walking him because he was a puller and pulled to the point we would often lose balance so we bought different harnesses and tried various training exercises. For 4 months that was his only issue. Then started the aggressive tendencies. At first we would walk him and if he saw a cat or bird or another dog he would fix on it and pull and bark. Then one night he became super aggressive and snarled, growled and became aggressive and started trying to attack me while walking him when he could not get to the other dog on the other side of the street. I quickly took him home and told my boyfriend what happened and he told me I was over reacting and the dog was fine. Over the next couple months we didn't have any major incidents. We had our friends watch him for a week with 2 other dogs and that is when everything started to go down hill. Our friends said he attacked their pit and they had to be separated. Next thing that happened was he started to act aggressive towards strangers trying to pet him during hikes. He almost bit two little girls. We then took him to a dog behavioral specialist that told us yoshi is just a nervous dog that is terrified of others. We had him in training for 6 months during that time the behavioral specialist told us we had to keep him tethered on a cot in the house or kennel and only to take him out with a slip lead on. He also had a vibrating collar. When he didn't have these things in place and we had our friends over he would attack. He attacked most of our friends. No major injuries because my boyfriend would save the day and put him in a hold. The last three months we became more relaxed with just the two of us and he became a better walker and we believed he was becoming better and more social. Our trainer saw a difference also. We always had him tethered or in a crate when we had people over. Yesterday I was walking into our kitchen and he gave me a death scare gazed look and I just kept walking he lunged at me and bit and scratched me all over my body. I had done nothing but walk past him. He didn't recognize me. Today we gave him to animal control. It was the hardest decision we have had to make. We loved him dearly.

Phyllis DeGioia
February 23, 2017

Hi Clarisa, First, let me say I'm sorry you're experiencing this difficult situation. It's incredibly heart breaking, I know. You have a very kind heart, but let me point out that this dog knocked you onto the ground and then went for your *throat*. That is how animals kill other animals. You are extraordinarily lucky that he didn't succeed in his instinct, and had you been alone, the outcome could have been vastly different. Placing him in another home simply transfers the significant risk to someone else, one that your husband refuses to take. Consider how you would feel if you succeeded in placing the dog elsewhere only to hear that he caused a serious trauma or actually killed a person. In my opinion, this dog is dangerous and the only place he could ever live that would give reasonable safety to people is in a severely restricted environment, such as a kennel and would need to fed by people wearing protective suits; that would make him miserable. I understand the emotional pull of wanting to help this poor dog. I feel for him too, as his mental status is not his fault. His increased aggression after neutering is more likely related to the end of his honeymoon period with you, when he felt no need to be on his best behavior, not the hormonal changes. I beg you to rethink this.

February 23, 2017

I brought a foster home and he was having issues with my bigger dog. My dog was the aggressor. But as time went by they started to get along. We were very cautious when they were around each other because I have been biter 3 different times breaking up their fighting. The last episode involved the foster attacking my very docile dog. When he did this my big dog jumped on the foster and started to fight with him. It was chaotic and scary. There were 3 adults trying to stop this fight. We would get them apart and either the foster or my dog would get away and start fighting again. Then we finally got them apart and I got the foster outside. At that time the foster started attacking me. I fell to the ground and he went right for my throat. I kicked him off me and he got my hand. With the help of the others I was able to get away from him but he was still acting aggressive even with no other dogs around anymore. He had been fixed 2'weeks prior and ever since then he seemed to get more and more aggressive especially toward me. During this altercation he almost bit my 8 year old. So I went to the hospital and got stiches and animal control came and got the foster. Now I am feeling like I could do more for this poor guy. I set him out to be euthanized but it won't happen for 10 days because of quarantine rules even though he was up to date on his shots. This all happened 3 days ago. My husband will absolutely not allow him back in our house but I am debating whether or not to let him be put down or see if I can find another foster. Part of me says this can't be fixed another part of me thinks he wasn't given a chance.

February 9, 2017

I`m so thankful I found this article. I have been reading it and all the comments for several days now and it has really helped me cope and feel better about my situation. I think I am ready to write about and maybe it will make me feel better. I am going to try and tell my story in the shortest version possible. About three months ago a former client of mine (who had recently divorced & moved out of state)called me (knowing I`m a huge dog lover) in tears asking if I could help her or knew anyone that could take in her 6 year old Pit Roxy. I had never met Roxy but over the years of working on my clients hair we talk about our dogs the same as our children, I felt like I knew Roxy was a good girl. My client had left the dog with her ex husband but he was being evicted and could no longer keep her. She had found someone to take her but the girl that took her had a boyfriend that was scared of all dogs especially Pits. The boyfriend threatened to call animal control if she didn't find someone to come get her immediately. My client called in tears telling me the story, I felt I had to help her. So even though I already have 3 dogs of my own,1 Pointer mix male, a Pit female, and a female Chihuahua, I told her I would help and keep her until we found a permanent home. So I got her. She was a beauty! Beautiful light Fawn and hazel eyes, strong physique of pure muscle and just gorgeous. Well immediately my male dog does not like her. Over time things got better but were never great with her and my male he would growl if she came near him, most the time she would just walk away but sometimes she kind of tested him so I would have to move them apart. My female Pit however loved her and they became buddies. We were able to find a rescue group that was willing to find her a home as long as I kept her and fostered her for the time being.So we just did our best to keep her and my male separated when we were doing other things and busy and not just hanging out watching tv or whatever. Finally it happened, my male and her get in a nasty fight. we get them separated and my old male did some damage to her ear. So she had to be stitched up. I knew at this point she would have to go to a new home soon cause they just did not click. I was trying to keep her and take care of her while her ear recovered and she had two families interested in meeting her soon as she was all within couple weeks her and the male were actually getting along better than ever and she was about to meet a couple potential adopters. By this time we had her for going on three months, everyone was getting attached including my husband and my 14 year old daughter. Roxy slept with my daughter every night. Roxy was so excited when she came home from school everyday. Roxy loved to play, go for walks, run with my female in the backyard, fetch sticks, cuddle, carry around her blanket, and nap with us. My husband would carry the 70lb girl around like a baby and she loved it. Things were going pretty good but for some reason I was always a little nervous and couldn't quite relax cause I was always worried another fight would break out with her and the male. Although she seem to be happy here for the most part I think she was still anxious most the time looking back. The way she would sit and nervously chew on her blanket for long periods and she paced around a lot, she had been this way since day one of coming to stay with us. There was a couple times I had told her no, pointed my finger at her and she kind of growled and barked at me like she was telling me off but I didn't think to much about it. She would try to hump my daughters leg and would get mad when told to stop or we pulled her off of her. All these things were few and far between. Majority of the time she was happy and being good and we enjoyed having her with us. So last Tuesday things unfortunately turned really bad. She had decided to jump up on my bed right beside my male and he started growling and then she growled and then next thing you know it was a fight. I (stupidly) was trying to separate them. My daughter and 14 year old nephew panicked cause they thought I was going to get hurt as I was on the ground pushing the male against the wall with my back to break them up, and they tried to involved and help  I told them to back up but they wouldn't cause they were scared for me. well at this point all three of us have bites on our hands, our own fault, I yelled to get some water and throw on them. I had him pinned against the wall in a corner so he was good but she kept trying to get him over my shoulder. Finally my nephew throws water on her and she stops by this time I'm able to push her out the door of the room and separate them. We shut the door and I turn around and next thing you know she was going after my nephew and biting him in several spots he kept backing away and I'm trying to pull her off and he jumps in the shower and she goes in after him. I'm able to hold her down in the tub long enough for him to run out and shut the bathroom door. So now I'm in the bathroom with her with the door shut. trying to softly talk to her and calm her while she has her mouth wrapped around the bottom of the door trying to rip it open. My nephew had ran to the neighbors, scared and had bite marks all over. So meanwhile my daughter is frantic outside the door wanting me to come out cause she is scared of what will happen to me now. My hand was bleeding really bad and I knew I needed stitches. I told her to please go downstairs and then I will come out. I wanted her to go down and shut the metal gate behind her we had at the top of the steps. so finally she did. I figure this way when I open the door Roxy would be confined to just the upstairs of my house and she  could calm down and my daughter would be safe downstairs and then I could go check on my nephew who was next door and get my hand cleaned up. Well I was so wrong. The moment I opened the door she took off like a bat out hell and blasted through the gate run down to the bottom of steps and immediately grabbed my daughter by the arm and started shaking her head fiercely back and forth. I`m running down the steps right behind and I picked up the gate and tried to use as a weapon but it only made her more angry. I then shoved it between them to separate them. She finally let go, my daughter ran out the door I tried to hold her as long as possible but she was so strong she basically shoved me out the way and out the door she went and grab my daughter again. She now has bitten her legs also and her hand, I tackle her down on the ground for as moment and as my daughter almost gets away she gets away from me and bites my daughter in the inner thigh area and the butt. I grab her again I am practically on the ground holding her with everything in me and using my knee to kick her hind legs to loosen her support. I'm able to hold her long enough for my daughter to make a run for it and get in the neighbors house. (Keep in mind during all this, we are not big people. My daughter is 5`6 skinny beanpole and I am 5`4 about 145lbs trying to fight a 70lb crazy strong pitbull) No sooner than she got in the door the dog gets away from me again and goes straight running to the neighbors jumping on the front door like a crazed pyscho dog. Thankfully my daughter was safe inside. At this point I'm so shook up, I cant decide what to do first go to the neighbors or get the dog back in my house to confine her. well she saw me standing there and I am thinking is she going to attack me now too or what, she had this crazy look in her eyes, like it wasn't her, she had blacked out or something. So I turned around started calmly walking to my house she followed, I opened the door, she went in, I opened the back door, she went outside, I shut the door, went to check on my family next door, by this time my neighbor had called my husband, he now is on way home, she called 911 cause my daughters arm was bleeding pretty bad, and then  I had my other neighbor call animal control. Every time the dog would get away and bite my daughter again I felt so helpless, nothing worse than watching this happen to your child and nephew. So putting the end as short as possible, animal control came and got her. I surrendered her to them but told them I don't want to know anything beyond the 10 day quarantine. I know what's happening but I don't want to discuss it. I cant. My husband took us to the hospital and I got stitches in both hands, My daughter got stitches in one hand but they left all the puncture wounds open for the most part on her and my nephew because they say its better to do that for dog bites cause infection, they missed three days of school, I am just now able to kind of use my hands to work, and we are all emotionally scarred for life. I have went through so many different emotions. I am totally angry for what she did. I am so sad because I remember the good stuff though before she lost her mind. I see her toys, her leash, her collar, her blanket, I can smell her on her favorite chair, and on her blanket, I see her doing all the cute things she did, and I see her cuddled up with us. Its just a total shock and it hurts so bad. I can see her trying to go back after my dog again, I cant understand how she went after the kids she loved so much. This wasn't like they just got bit for being in the middle of a dog fight, she ran them down, more than once. we are all heartbroken. We have all cried, I'm angry one minute and sad the next. What if someone with smaller children had adopted her from us and something like this happened  they may not have been as lucky as these kids were. then again I think well maybe it would not have happened if she was in house without dogs. Maybe she could have been better with a single person. I think of all the what ifs and it makes me sick. Then I picture her sad in the cage awaiting her fate, wondering why another family left her, she probably don't even know what she did. But then I go back and see her attacking these kids, especially my daughter who got the worse end of it as far as the amount of times she went after her. Its just a complete nightmare. I do have to say though I been praying to God to help me get through this and thanking him for not letting it be a worse situation and today is the first day I have not cried (yet). I get my stitches out in a couple days and hopefully can get back to normal and try to move on. Sadly with this situation I just don't know that I will be for fostering any dogs ever again and I use to be a true believer and all about how wonderful fostering is.

Anna B Nirva
February 5, 2017

Thank you for writing your post and your follow up comments one, two, and three years later are wonderful. I've put my beloved coonhound to sleep a few weeks ago, holding him and singing his favorite lullaby as he passed. It was the most difficult decision of my life. I miss him so much and I see him everywhere I turn. His life is partly chronicled in his FB page, RIP Coonhound "Cheefers" and I've posted the link to your article there with my thanks. Seeing all the photos I've taken of him through the years has been strangely soothing. He was greatly loved and he had 6 years of life and many happy experiences. But he was like Jekyl & Hyde...  loving me up one minute and growling and glaring at me the next. One night when I sat next to him on "his" couch he bit me and gave me 20 punctures. It was the second bite he gave me. He had also bitten shelter volunteers and boarding kennel staffers. He was a resource guarder and also had many unpredictable triggers. Your "walking on eggshells" comment explains it. I'd also say that feeling a cold flood of fear running through my midsection while he was biting my arm and pulling my skin was the moment of truth for me. Because of his former foster mom, a dog behaviorist, he was so well trained that when I told him to "leave it" ...  "leave it"  ...  "leave it" he did finally withdraw his teeth from my skin but his jaw was literally twitching with the effort. Blood pouring down my arm, I slowly walked out of the room and to the kitchen sink leaving a trail of blood on the floor. While it was happening, I thought that my face would be next because he was getting more and more excited as he was biting me. So my fear of him gave me the strength. It took me days to make arrangements and schedule the vet for a visit and I did follow through. His lask long walk around the neighborhood and park was a very happy one for him but miserable for me; I hid it well. His last minutes were peaceful and my resolve held. He was mentally ill and dangerous and I felt I had no other responsible choice. But I miss him terribly as he was so much fun to take on walks and he was trained to run next to a bicycle so we did that often. I miss him terribly.

January 29, 2017

This is a great article and great posts.  I don’t have this problem but I do have a rehome ... he is nine, I got him when he was eight.  He was chained outside for the majority of his life and fed but neglected and left alone and not walked. He just intimidates me a bit - he doesn't seem to bond and these stories of "out of nowhere" he suddenly attacked; or "never having had a problem he launched himself". I feel a bit like the poster, who said it was like living in an abusive domestic situation.  I have always had loving springers before - this dynamic "offish, unbonded, ignoring me, dominant, bullying" just unnerves me.  I tried a trainer but he responded less to her than to me!!  She suggested it wasn't worth her coming back again - not me. I do hope it gets better.  I have never - in all my life - and amongst all my friends/family come across an aggressive dog before ... we have all had sweet-natured, normal dogs so it is unnerving.  Good luck to all.

January 26, 2017

I've been assaulted because my dog nipped a kid and then lost my job from pain of the assault and unable to work for two weeks. I've been bit more than four times and my husband has been bit and lost his feeling in his thumb. My old dog has been made practically crippled. Shes in doggy jail now for ten days after trying to kill my ten yr old dog again and biting my hand. I have to make the decision to take her home or put her down. My heart screams take my best friend home. My head says if i do she will bite again and this time she will maim. My precious little girl who helped me through depression and and saving my life from an abusive boyfriend. My precious love who loves squeaky ball and swimming and laying and holding me. I love you my precious little lady and i hate myself for knowing in my head i need to let you go.

January 26, 2017

I need help. I adopted my now 2.5 year old mix (shepherd? formosan? kelpie?) about a year and a half ago. I volunteer at the local SPCA and fell in love with her, Peach, while there. At first, everything was wonderful. She loved people and dogs, but did have some food aggression. That was always manageable and we continued on with trainings at the SPCA. About 6 months in, Peach became super protective of me and our home. She lunged at men we passed on the street and growled at people entering our apartment. It finally escalated to her biting. Never punctures or anything serious (at least that's what I told myself), but I enrolled her in a two-week intensive training program specifically for aggressive behavior. Peach came back a very obedient, polite dog at first. But she is now back to her old ways and even ended up in animal control for a week after biting the mail man. In the past week, Peach has bitten my boyfriend, friend, and two dogs. She is my best friend and I can't ever imagine putting her down. But it's destroying relationships with my family, friends, and boyfriend. My boyfriend, specifically, is putting immense pressure on me to put her down. I don't think our relationship will last through this. What do I do? I want there to be other options. Another home, another rescue group. But I fear she'll just end up being euthanized there too. And potentially injure more people before it's over. To me, she is worth it. The money, stress, training. But at what point do I have to give up? I feel like I've failed her. My dream is to become a dog trainer. But how can I pursue that when I can't even help my own dog? I feel I'm in a nightmare I can't escape from and I need support.

January 19, 2017

Thank you very much for this article. I really needed some coaching with my situation right now and our 6 years old pitbull, Jupiter. I got him from a shelter where they estimated he was 6 months old. They got him neuter and he had all the vaccines. He was afraid and anxious but was not aggressive. I believe he probably had gone through some abusive past. But ever since me and my bf walked out with him he just got attached to us. We fed him –you could see his rib cage when we first brought him home- we pet him, he sleeps with us in our bed, I cradle him as if he was a little baby and he just goes to sleep so tenderly, this 80 pounder dog, always behaves like he is a little lap dog, and he gets all the attention a dog might want. The apartment is spacious and we have a deck and access to a backyard where he runs and does his thing several times a day. We walk him at least 4 days a week and he is always loose in the apartment when we go to work. We took him, early on, to training classes for the regular stuff: sit, come, fetch, etc. We love him and he loves us in return. But, there is this other side of Jupi, a side that comes out when least expected and that has wreck havoc every now and then. We hosted a party, not 9 months after getting him, when he bit one of our guests in the face. The situation was complicated, because the dog has barked at our friend and as such we leashed him and tied him in a bedroom for safety. Our friend got a little too drunk and in a moment where I was in the restroom and my bf was in the kitchen, he went to mess with the dog. And Jupi got him good: 14 stitches in our friend’s chin. So we chalked up the whole encounter as our friends fault. After all, the dog had warned and was tied to a leash. But then it happened again, probably not as harsh, but unprovoked. We had a friend visiting and my bf left her with the dog in the leaving room while he went to the restroom. She was seeing the Christmas Tree as it was “the season”. Jupi came and bit her in the arm. Unannounced, unwarned, unprovoked. (“Maybe she was doing something and wouldn’t tell us, maybe she was teasing him, etc”) And then few months later happened again. And again. And again. With different people, all friends of ours, all loving and caring people who would not sue us, and who would not even ask to put the dog down. Most of them ended up with a couple of stitches in their hands and forearms. And we kept making excuses for the dog, and locked him in a room whenever we had someone over, for the past year. But every time the possibility of putting him down was brought into the table, we had friends and family –even victims- advising to save the dog. “Find a house in the country”, “Have him take Zanax”, “I know a trainer that only charges $400 per session”, etc, etc, etc. Making the right decision was even more difficult since is all but popular, even when Jupi had bitten enough friends to start a Foundation against him. Yesterday, he bit my mom. In the hand. A member of the household he knows since we brought him. While she was feeding him, not less. As far as I am concerned, he took the decision for us and sealed his fate. However, it is a pretty ugly sentiment inside me, ‘cause that dog loves me and I love him. And yet, even with this incident, I still got people all around advising against putting him down. We humans really believe we can fix it all and change it all and that there must be a way for everything. My dog had everything. And yes, I might not have tried “giving him Zanax” because I don’t think that will fix anything. We as pet owners know whether or not this can be fixable. And sadly, I believe most of times, it simply it is not. I can try a thousand ways, and I know that at the end, nothing will guarantee me that my dog won’t bite again. Thanks to this article I have collected enough strength to stop this, his suffering and ours. It just needs to be done and move on. I feel this blog brought a lot of clarity to where I need to go from here. Now I feel that I would fail Jupiter, and to many of my friends and family, if I don’t take this step. Thanks so very much!

Phyllis DeGioia
January 19, 2017

Hi Phyllis, Your situation sounds emotionally painful, and I feel for you. I know all too well how complicated it all is. Rehoming C would have increased her stress by removing her from the only place she felt safe - with you - and my guess is that it would have made her more aggressive, not less. I don't think rehoming her would have been a safe alternative, and it would only let C continue to suffer crippling anxiety and fear.

January 19, 2017

I am in tremendous pain right now and although my dog was evaluated by a revered vet and animal behaviorist and the trainers she considers the best in the business I question my decision to euthanize her a few hours ago. I adored C and although she was my shadow, and felt safe around her, I was afraid she would eventually maul my 9 year old daughter. Unfortunately my daughter is autistic and over the past two years or so, has been unpredictable, having meltdowns, screaming, and extremely hyper. We adopted C from a large, reputable, local rescue group. She came from a very high kill shelter in a rural area. She was initially very shy and would shake horribly in fear. We felt so bad for her and loved her so much. For 2 and a half years she showed nothing but love toward me. She slept on the ottoman at the foot of my bed. We woke up together every morning and I petted her and gave her tummy rubs before I did anything else. She went back and forth from sleeping at the foot of my bed to sharing my daughter's bed. For about the first year everything was okay. When we adopted her we had an older dog we had adopted from a city shelter when she was around 10 years old. As soon as I took that dog to the vet I discovered that she had cancer I one foot and around her collarbone, but she was my dog, I adopted her and I knew if I returned her to the shelter she would have been euthanized. Instead we were happy to spend thousands on surgery and then radiation treatment from a doggie oncologist. We had her for 5 years and every day was wonderful. She became extremely arthritic and fell down our staircase many times. When I decided to put her to sleep it was because she was living in severe pain. Our vet said she was at least 15 which is a pretty long life for a 50 pound pointer mix. We adopted C four months before our older dog passed. After our older dog passed I noticed that C became aggresive. Instead of retreating when she was frightened she lunged at strangers AFTER they gave her treats. She became very territorial and wouldn't let anyone in our house. We tried everything we could to address this problem but we and three experienced trainers couldn't help her or us.C lunged and muzzle-punched all of them. We got used to creating her in another room, on the rare occasions when someone HAD to come to our home --which she didn't mind. In fact C liked her crates (upstairs and downstairs. My child who needed to have play dates could no longer have them in our home. Things changed when I went to work full time and C went to doggie day camp. She has a great time playing with the group for the first two months. Then she attacked one of the dogs in the group. C COULD no longer be in the play area o while my husband and I were at work and my child was in school and then aftercare C was at the doggie daycare place in a run with four play sessions with a staff member everyday. C was always frightened when I left her there although everyone there loved her and gave her lots of attention. She jumped for it when I picked her up at the end of the day. My husband and I were worried about C's anxiety and fear. The vet put her on Prozac which only helped a little bit. Then my child was diagnosed on the spectrum and I could no longer go to my office because the school was calling me to pick my daughter up almost every day.Around August C started show in aggression toward my daughter nd lunged at her numerous times. I chalked C's behavior up to excitement and blamed my child. Although we told ourselves that it wasn't C's fault, we were afraid our daughter would eventually get hurt. I took C to a top behaviorist in September. She evaluated C with a fair prognosis and added a daily tranquilizer. We didn't see much difference. When we gave her a higher dose she was more aggressive so we went back to the old dosage. In November and December C lunged at my daughter muzzle punching her face and scratching her back. I turned to the rescue group we got her from for help. I told them that C really needed another home and still felt it was because of my daughter. I told them C needed a quieter, predictable home without an autistic child. Instead of telling me they would take Sherbrooke C they suggested I send her to a doggie boot camp to be rehabilitated for $2500 or I could release C to the volcano where she would get intense training and would be adopted. On Saturday morning C and I were sitting on my daughter'agendas she tried on a pair of pants in front of us. Out of nowhere C growled a little and in seconds attacked my daughter muzzle punching her face and scratching her back. I realized then that my child was in real danger. Both of them were unpredictable. I contacted the behaviorist and she sent me to a trainer she trusts. The trainer was reluctant to take the case because she felt that a dog who had shown aggression toward a child could never be changed. The behavior could only be managed and it was likely to fail. I talked to the behaviorist and she said she would tell me who else I could go to if this one wouldn't take the case. We were hopeful although the trainer said that although my daughter was not actually bitten once contact is made it is considered a bite. The behaviorist agreed. The trainer came to my home to evaluate C at 12:30. C was okay for a few minutes eating treats and then out of nowhere went for the trainer. She told me that C could never be trusted alone with my daughter or any child. She continued to work with C and was muzzle punched twice. After working in rescue I felt I would never know what happened to C. I knew she would suffer in fear no matter where she was placed and would always be dangerous. I felt there was a good chance she would have been euthanized anyway. The trainer who also evaluated shelter dogs told me that if she saw C there she would have evaluated her as unacceptable and she would have been put down. I didn't want C to suffer anymore. I realized she lived in almost constant fear. Something just wasn't right mentally. So rather than ever know if her rate I put her down. Everyone told me I did the right thing but I don't believe them. C was my dog and I believe I should have been able to place her in a more appropriate home. I feel like I was a coward. Now I hate myself and to be honest I even hate my kid. Why am I so sure I was wrong to put her down?

Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM
January 17, 2017

Hi Hazel, I'm so sorry to hear you are having trouble with Pepsi.  Since she is still quite young, it may be possible to work on her behavior.  If you haven't already, please schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for an examination and behavioral consultation.  You're right that it's important to intervene now while she is still young and before anyone becomes seriously injured.

Hazel Kelly
January 18, 2017

Hi I'm sitting here crying and worried that the lovely little pup I got from a rescue has aggression issues and I'm upset at what the out come might be. Pepsi is a very small dog looks very like a chihuahua we were told she is a papillion cross but to be honest they really don't know. Her mam was heavily pregnant when she was rescued and Pepsi is one of the pups. I love her so much it hurts. But the problem is she can be very agressive. She likes to snuggle with me on the settee but EVERYTIME I try to move her so I can get up she has snarled and lately starting to bite too. One time she was sitting on my shoulder and when I moved she snarled at me I was so afraid she would bite my face. She is so small athe the moment the damage is a small puncture wound. But I'm afraid as she gets older what could happen. She is 4 months old at the moment. It's not just me she has done this to. My teenager and husband gets it too. I'm terrified if she was to do this to a young child. Please help what can I do. Can she be helped.

January 11, 2017

Thank you for this. I have to put down my 4 yr old Husky who jut bit my daughter on the face last night. We've been his only owners, and discovered early that he had resource aggression. We tried to work with him on it but it was to no avail. I feel like I'm not allowed to mourn him. Like I'm not supposed to love him but I do. I love my kids more, and he's only getting worse. I don't like to give up easily and I've been fighting this decision for two years. I kept thinking we could make him better. I'm currently an emotional wreck, our daughters are upset, and the one who got bitten feels like it's her fault. We have assured her that none of it is her fault. She was shooing him off the counter like we've done a hundred times, but this time when she approached him he lunged at her and bit her face. I have no idea what the long term implications for her will be. I don't know if she will now be afraid of dogs or just afraid of dogs near her face. I'm very confused about all of my emotions, but this plus all of the updates has been a tremendous help. Not all dogs can or should be saved. It'll be a while before we get another dog, but I will try again.

January 10, 2017

Thank you so much for this blog - I was beginning to think I was the only person in the world who has had to make that very difficult decision to put down a beautiful boy for fear aggression.  I could detail his story here but I don't need to, because it is so similar to all the other stories here. It is good for my soul and grieving process, just to know that I am not alone.

January 8, 2017

Thank you so much for this letter. I am struggling with the decision to euthanize my 4 year old boxer who has become increasingly aggressive. Your experience has given me a perspective on how to make this extremely difficult decision. Thank you.

January 7, 2017

Thank you so much for your article as it is helping me at a very difficult time.  I am having my dog euthanized tomorrow as her aggression is increasing.  I have tried medications, training etc.  I do feel as I have failed her but my bigger failure would be to not protect my kids living at home.  I have considered surrendering her but believe all that would do is transfer the problem to another household and neighborhoood.  No one needs to live in fear that their dog will eventually attack or even kill someone.  I fought this decision for 2 years but the time has come to take action because I know it is just a matter of time before someone is hurt or worse.  I would rather mourn the loss of a pet rather than the loss of a human that is severely injured or  dies at the hands of my pet..

Phyllis DeGioia
January 5, 2017

Hi Dorrie, I'm so sorry for your loss and understand the emotions involved. However, I can assure you that providing a good home isn't enough for dogs with anxiety or emotional issues. You did not - and I mean this seriously - betray him. If a dog is so anxious or fearful that it causes him to lash out repeatedly, his quality of life is low as well as yours. I hope it helps to think about how you would feel if he did more damage to someone because of his anxiety. Time does help in this situation, although it doesn't seem to happen soon enough. My heart is with you and Moe.

January 5, 2017

Hello, yesterday was  my  most  fearful  and  emotional day I had  to put  my 4 yr old  moe  down    ifeel  I have   betrayed him  we had  3 serious  attack  issue  which landed on  person in the hospital he  was always    aggressive  with  visitors  and  walking him he  was always  alert and ready  I know  in  my mind  this  wasn't normal  how  can a sweet pup grow  up  to be  so  aggressive  he  had all the great  things  good health  toys  a yard  food  I don't  get it  and  I am beating myself  up  over it  .    I loved him dearly  I am  soo  sorry  for this why does this happen  I can't   wrap  my head  around  it  this  isn't normal  I  am really have  a problem  moving on  my whole  life  is  at a stand  still.

January 3, 2017

Thank you for your touching story. I am really struggling with my own decision because of my connection to "Buster" the poor emaciated rescued 1yr old that my neighbor brought to my doorstep. Well meaning he felt this would somehow "fix" my sadness over losing "Blanche" my almost 17yrold Pointer. She was also a rescue at 3mos of age. Early on we saw signs of his abuse through his behavior. High anxiety, often aggressive to men. I feel being a small pit bull he had been trained to fight but did not have the level of aggression they wanted so the discarded out of a moving car on a busy highway. This is where my neighbor rescued him. I have given Buster a wonderful life. regular vet care, good food, safe home, nice big yard, took him to dog parks with no incident. Because of his fears of riding in cars and anxiety (peeing often uncontrolably due to nervousness) I introduced him to a new puppy "Molly" at 8wks of age. Busters life was transformed. Molly was"His". As Molly grew and played you could see Buster become more and more confident. To this day almost 4yrs later I still cannot undue the damage to his brain. He will try to eat his way out of our fence to go after our neighbors. Molly just barks at them. There have been several altercations with people in the past and I have been guilty of making excuses about his abuse to explain away his behavior. Today I witnessed an all too often altercation between Molly and Buster. He plays very rough and aggravates her to the point that she turns on him. She has been the alpha in the house and quite frankly "she can take him". Well she got a grip on his lip and and both were a bloody mess when I got them apart. After checking him out he seemed to not experience any pain from his injury. When this has happened before I seperate them and they go their own way and later come back and "makeup" kissing eachother and  being very loving. This time was different. Buster immediately went after Molly not on the attack but to continue to aggravate her. He wasn't biting but rather bulldozing her and asking for her to "Kick his Ass". I could not believe his behavior. I really have decided he does have some sort of brain impairment. I have worked so much with him but I cannot trust him to behave safely. My family and my neighbors are fearful. I am very sad to feel as though I have failed Buster but I must be a responsible pet parent. Thank you again for your article. It made me see more clearly that I cannot continue down this path without it ending in a disaster. I love this beautiful boy he is my little love. It breaks my heart to have to make this decision. No training or medication has made any major change. I can grieve my loss knowing I made every effort to help change Busters circumstance and gave him a wonderful life.

January 3, 2017

I found this article while crying at my desk. I just showed up at work after having to euthanize my nine year old great pyrenees, Kitten. I've had her since she was a puppy. When I decided to get a large breed dog, I was living alone, had plenty of time and space and had no plans to ever have children. I was also 20 and as life goes, plans change. I met my husband at 23 and he moved in with me and Kitten shortly after that. Kitten adapted well, my husband learned all of the hand gestures Kitten knew (deafness in one ear). Kitten had tendencies for food bowl aggression, but no other agressive behavior and she had never bitten so while I worked with a trainer on this little bit of bad behavior I didn't stress too much over it. I got pregnant four years ago and it was a surprise to us all. It was also wonderful. Kitten started to become uncomfortable with the sound of my son crying or playing so I tried to distance them somewhat and I never left them alone together. Kitten ended up trying to bite my 13 month old, but luckily he fell down as she lunged and she only scratched his face before I had caught her. I planned to take her to the vet the next day for a complete workup and talk about what needed to be done. The vet said she was in perfect health and my grandmother agreed to take her so she wouldn't be startled by my son. This seemed like an okay situation since Kitten had spent every weekend with my grandmother and her dogs since she was a baby. My grandmother passed away in February and my mom decided to take in Kitten since she lived next door and loved her. I moved into my grandmother's house with my now TWO toddlers. Three months ago we came home to my twelve year old shitzu dead in the kitchen. She looked like she was wet all over and we assumed one of the dogs had possibly tried to clean her after she passed. We didn't think to blame Kitten. Yesterday though I realized just how naive we were... My mom came home to Kitten mauling her thirteen year old chihuahua. He was also covered in slobber, but his throat had also been ripped out. When I tried to remove Kitten from the kitchen she lunged for me and then tried to get around me to bite at my toddler who had followed me next door to check on his granny. I should have euthanized her when she tried to bite my son. I know that now. I was the one who held her during thunderstorms, took her for weekend car rides, slept beside her kennel when she was sick... and today I had to be the one to drive her to the vet to be euthanized. I didn't know anything that felt "right" could hurt this badly. Reading your post has helped more than I can say. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for giving me hope that I might not always hurt this badly.

January 1, 2017

Thank you for this article. I too am struggling with the decision to euthanize my dog. I adopted her from a high kill animal control facility. Unfortunately they do not facilitate a long meet and greet. I had 10 minutes with her in a small yard with only myself and the overworked volunteer. She was obviously frighten. She has been brought in only the day before from a neglect call. She and 7 other small dogs found out in the elements in a small cage full of feces. Her age was estimated at 1 year. She was all of 5.6 pounds and I felt she would be the the perfect little darling dog to take to work with me. I work 10 hour days and the only way I could have a dog would be a take to work dog. I own a small quiet day spa. The first few days were an easy adjustment period. She was snuggley and simply precious. Our first encounter with another human was quite the opposite, she growled and snipped. I chalked it up to new environment anxiety. Later at the vet she had to be muzzled. As the days went by she became sweeter and sweeter to me. She actually untucked her tiny scared tail a few times. As she became sweeter to me , she became more agressive with others. She is not able to go to the dog park as she is afraid of dogs. She freezes in place and urinates, the urune is particularly pungent. I have had to kennel her when my clients arrive. Yet she continues to growl and snap. Last night she snapped at me as I picked her up. I am heart sick as I feel she just hasn't had much of a chance in life. I have spoke with a trainer who insists it would months or perhaps years to undue the aggression. I could never return her to the shelter as I know they would euthanize her immediately. She would possibly have to be held and that would mean days of shaking in fear and fearfulness of the other dogs. I will not try to regime her as I know she will bite again and someone may do her harm because of it. I have basically decided to have her euthanized at my vet this week. My heart is raw with grief and guilt that I could not fully help this girl. I only find solace in knowing her 3 weeks with me have been filled with love, sleeping in my warm bed, belly full and plenty of love.

Lindsay Ann Comeau
December 27, 2016

Tonight I am bringing Jack to my vet for him to be examined, although my decision is already pretty well made up... Jack will be four next year and I got him just over a year ago. I am a stay at home wife, now mom and Jack is my entire world. I am the boss of the house and he looks to me for comfort and guidance. I feel as though I am failing him. When I got him I knew he had baggage, I didn't know how much. Jack was likely abused as a puppy and abandoned at four months old. His previous family adopted him from the shelter and had him for over two years before giving him to me. They kept him outside, alone, far too often. Jack had no toys and little attention given to him. He seemed to have no basic obedience skills, but that did not deter me from bringing him home. He now sits before being petted and tries his best to listen, even though he struggles with anxiety and high energy. He sleeps with me and we comfort each other on a daily basis. Jack is food possessive, something we've worked on and are still working on. Jack has a hunters instinct. I have many small prey animals in my home and must keep them separate at all times, but I knew this before bringing him home. I supervise interactions with my pet pig and never leave them alone. Jack has high anxiety and trips to the vet are a nightmare. Cutting his claws began with five technicians and him peeing himself. We brought him to his previous owners choice of groomer, in the hopes that the experience would be less trying. He bit the lady. That should've been a huge red flag. He didn't puncture her skin and somehow I justified his behaviour, but needless to say I was worried and discouraged. However we committed to bringing him to our vet every 4-6 weeks for his claws, made them muzzle him and eventually we got it down to a two person operation, instead of the initial five. I was encouraged. My husband has little experience with dogs and sometimes acts too much like a child with Jack. I see him testing his limits and patience. Having done a lot of reading up on anxious dogs, since I had no first hand experience on that subject either, I tried to coach my husband and myself through this. It went relatively well. I was in tune with Jack. I quickly saw when he was tired or anxious and would voice it. I was so proud of us. We seemed to have synced up together on such a profound level. But then he snapped my husband, not harming him, and it was unprovoked. I couldn't justify this and yet I couldn't deal with what it meant. I chose to ignore it and hope for the best and try to steer us clear of the storm up ahead. Then, one night, laying in bed, petting him, he turned on me, again not harming me, but it scared me. I'd never been scared of Jack before. And now recently he did the same thing to my mom. The arrival of my baby this past week has forced me to ask tough questions, which obviously I'd been avoiding, but which would have been inevitable. What are we going to do with Jack? And there in lies the problem. I love Jack. And Jack loves me. And we were definitely made for each other. We are soul mates. And yet I cannot change who he is. And it's killing me. I know he wants to listen and wants to be good. Sunday he heard us talking and in just a few hours his behaviour towards me and the baby improved remarkably (we'd been home a little over a day). I know he wants it to work and so do I. The problem is no amount of love can fix Jack. No amount of discipline, alertness, boundaries, gates, training can change who he is and how he's been wired and I feel so bad for him. I want to help him. Since Sunday he looks at me and knows what I've been thinking and it tears me up inside.

December 26, 2016

First, I like dogs and have owned dogs--and they like me, but....   I have never been bitten, even by aggressive dogs, and I think I know why. I have absolutely no fear of a dog. Any dog.  For some reason, even a dog on the street who thinks he's tough, may come running up to me, and stop short because I don't run, cower or even feel afraid. Why am I writing this to you? Because I felt so very sorry for those who have had aggressive dogs and been attacked.  My grandson, whom I have raised, has been attacked at least three times by aggressive dogs, the firs time when he was only 3 years old and on a field trip with his pre-school class.  He was getting out of the van when a dog in the neighborhood charged up and bit him in the face and would have continued to attack if the staff and passersby had not intervened.  The dog ran off and my grandson had to be taken to ER and later undergo the series of anti-rabies shots--the first one IN HIS CHEEK where the dog first bit him.  He still has the scar.  On another occasion, my neighbor's dog, a beagle mix rescue, suddenly with no provocation whatsoever, attacked him--at the time he was 10 years old and doing nothing other than standing beside me at the doorway talking to my neighbor who was borrowing my camera.  The dog went nuts. Everyone was screaming--but in a few seconds it was over because I shouted at the dog that I was going to kill him then and there.  He backed off and looked at me. My neighbor was shocked at ME!  Since then (now 8 years have passed), the dog has attacked other people and they have taken him to a behaviorist, but guess what? They let him out in the backyard, he digs out and shows up at the dumpster behind my apartment next door.  There are small children here that play on the swings or on their tricycles and this dog has frightened the wits out of them.  ...but, one day, I was out there when he cam sniffing about and when I saw him--called his name, he looked around, saw me, and IMMEDIATELY changed from an aggressive posture to wagging his tail. I wasn't having that.  I told him to go home, went over, picked him up and marched up to my neighbor's door.  I am not mean. I am not aggressive. I am not one who shouts or picks fights--and I like my neighbor--she's a child psychologist, too!!!  ...but. She knows there are small children around. She knows how aggressive this dog is and she STILL defends him and his behavior.  So, I calmly and kindly told her that if I saw the dog out again, that I would call the police and make a complaint. It worked, sort of. The dog is now very crippled with toenails that have grown to look like a horror movie creature or something out of Ripley's Believe It or Not because they can't take him to the vet--he bites and the vet has said no no no.  So when he got out and I saw him in this condition and called his name, he came to me, barely able to walk. He licked my hand when I extended it.  What did I do? I didn't call the police. I took him inside and took the clippers I use for my cat's claws, and trimmed his nails--they were almost three inches long and curled and deformed around his paws.  He let me do this without a peep.  However, when I took him to my neighbor, rang the doorbell, the postman came up--and this dog who had let me do all of this painful clipping--went crazy barking and trying to get to the postman who was visibly frightened.  So, what's changed? I don't know why dogs behave the way they do, but if this had been my dog, I would have had him euthanized the first time he ever attacked anyone other than a burglar.  I don't think they can be cured--like pedophiles and serial killers. These mis-wired creatures may not attack or victimize EVERY one,but the ones they DO, seldom survive intact.

December 23, 2016

Thank you for this post and for your updates.  After being bit three times over the past couple of years by a dog I rescued in 2006, the third time I knew I could not risk him biting a child, a friend or me [again].  Right now I doubt I will ever have a dog again because of the uncertainty, but that may pass.  I feel incredibly guilty but reading about the situations of other dog owners with aggressive and/or unpredictable dogs helps somewhat.  He will always be loved and missed, but at the same time there will be no risk of injury or worse to anyone, particularly a child.   Thank you.

December 10, 2016

re the Belgian Malinois post from Diane on this thread in January 2015 I can relate. I am not the owner of one thankfully but I rented a first floor flat from a landlady who acquired a Malinois during the latter part of my two year tenancy there and had truly fearful experiences with this dog and it's territorial aggression in the three months before I moved out. Many here speak about their love for their even aggressive and dangerous pets and I believe my former landlady loves her dog.  But she was in complete denial about the aggressive behaviours exhibited by this dog towards me.  I didn't like the dog at first  - even as a pup I had a funny feeling about him but as he was still a pup I wasn't afraid of him physically. Later it was a different story.  The dog had had it’s leg broken by someone who threw a stone at him when he was loose in their front yard as a pup.  As result they kept him inside for a long time. Maybe this later contributed to his issues I’m not sure. By January this year the owner was making attempts to socialize him with me and my dog at the advice of her trainer.  To no avail it turned out....the dog tolerated us if we made it past the front door into their flat (this was a house share and they lived downstairs) but in the stairway and hallway and front yard (the shared territory) it was a different story. That dog did not want us there and made it clear by growling and snapping and pacing along the fence.  The owners downplayed the behaviour saying it was normal ' oh he's just being a dog' that kind of nonsense.  My dog did not behave like that towards them. It got worse.  He tried to block my way by standing in front of me on the stairs and growling one day and I decided enough was enough and told the owners they needed to control him better and take responsibility. Their defensiveness was unbelievable.  They grudgingly after several angry conversations about his worsening aggression towards us agreed to keep him in the back garden but they were many times lax about this and allowed him to wander on the stairway with no collar and in the charge during the day of sometimes only their feeble 86 year old grandmother who was unable to control him. Diane talked about fear and others have mentioned the fear in these situations as almost being worse than the pain of being bitten.  Well those three months were some of the most fearful months of my life on a raw survival level although I managed to avoid being bitten just! I had nightmares about being attacked by the dog on the stairs and I was terrified for my thirteen year old daughter who lives with me and my own dog too whom he bit (didn't draw blood but hurt him and scared him) several times.    My dog is a Sheltie - whose worse trait is barking a lot - and a very balanced dog - he showed fear of this dog in the hallway and I know when he shows fear it is to be trusted as he is not overly fearful. After a very unpleasant and stressful three months we finally moved out and on the very last day after a week of moving where we had agreed they would keep the dog indoors/in the back garden....I was moving a last few bits and lo and behold the granny opens the door and the dog runs out and makes a beeline for me standing next to my car.  The fact that my front door was open saved me from his lunge and jump at me as I used it as a shield.  Reading some of the posters descriptions of a bad bite here I can only imagine what would have happened without that protection from my car door. Of course they blamed me for leaving the gate open!!nI forgot about it mostly since but recently I have seen one of the owners with the dog off leash in a park where I walk from time to time.  I walked in the opposite direction needless to say but it has given me renewed cause for concern. Although I like walking in that park with my dog I am now thinking best strategy is to avoid it.  However, in conscience -and some advice here would be appreciated - should I make an anonymous report to the authorities about my concerns about this dog.  He attacked me unprovoked after all and was foaming at the mouth on one occasion when I arrived at the front gate.  I'd had to get the owners to come out and control him. I think they are not good owners for this aggressive dog.  They deny a problem and while it is their choice to take the risk  it's not right to impose such risks on the tenant or the public. I have spent a lot of time reading this thread and composing a response.  I am horrified by some of the posts.  To the lady and her husband who got bitten and badly injured by their dog that sounded just horrendous and was what I had visions of this dog doing to me if he got the chance.  I may have been saved only by my car door. I hope you are healing well from your pain and trauma. I agree why live in fear around a dog and let them dominate the home life like this.  Many of the response of 'I love them but....' remind me of reading about victims of human domestic violence.  It is the same thing. In my case my landlady belittled and denied my fears insinuating that it was me that was the problem not the dog.    I had bitten my tongue up to a point with this dog but as he grew more aggressive I had no choice but to say something.    I was convinced we were talking about a creature which had the potential to kill or inflict great harm...and this has been borne out by many of the descriptions here and of course the original article by Phyllis about her terrifying attack on the stairs. In all my years (and they are many) I have never been in such a bizarrely crazy frightening situation and am so thankful not me, my young daughter, my dog nor anyone else I knew was hurt by these people's delusions about their dog and wilful negligence.  I don't know about euthanizing this dog but they'd had a trainer for him and to me he seemed to get worse and not better.  To me human life and safety has priority over animal welfare.  It's not ok for anyone to be attacked by man or beast.  I also asked my lawyer at one stage what to do and she said if the dog hasn’t bitten the authorities won’t do anything.   Is that what it takes – a serious injury – before someone takes action.  Seems like it.

Phyllis DeGioia
December 6, 2016

BV, I am sad to hear of this incident and the 16 stitches you received. Some dogs have been trained not to show any signs of impending aggression, like growling or raising a lip, so when they bite it appears to come out of nowhere. Since that rescue is geared to work with aggressive dogs and they have his history from you, perhaps they can work with him. Time will tell. I understand the trauma, and I didn't need medical attention after falling down the stairs. A year or so later, my sister's dog snapped at my face (he was on  my lap with his head pointed away from me, so I didn't see his lip raise) and I was an emotional wreck for a few hours. I think I would still be a wreck today. Each of us will deal with the emotional aftermath in our own way and heal in our own timeframe. Time heals many wounds, although of course I will never forget how much I loved my dog and how afraid of him I became. My emotional reactions now are a fraction of what they were and I haven't burst into tears just from missing him in a couple of years. I will still cry sometimes thinking about how graceful and beautiful he was. I venture to guess that while it will take time for you, as it does for all sensitive souls, it won't take as long as it would had you owned him and lived with him for a few years or most of his life. That's not much solace, I know, but I hope it helps. Please take care of yourself.

December 6, 2016

I got bit in the face by my foster dog a few weeks ago. This is a dog we had had for 2 months and showed no sign of aggression. We loved him so much we were discussing keeping him. When he bit me it was night time, we had just finished watching a movie and I was contemplating going to bed so there was no chaos, no food, no other dog annoying him. It came completely out of nowhere, not even a growl and he was completely calm afterwards when I led him to his crate. I had about 16 stitches beneath my lip. He went into quarantine for 10 days then to a rescue that deals with rehabilitation of aggressive dogs. I don't know what will happen to him. I'm sure he will pass any assessment with flying colors as he was a dog that everyone who met him fell for and never showed any signs that he could do anything like this. I still cry both for myself and for the dog but also for what could have happened. I feel like I will never get over both the loss and the trauma of it. My heart is truly broken. I was never afraid of this dog even after the event and I tried to stay as calm as possible. I know that as I write this he is still alive but I will never know what will happen to him in the long run. Your article gave me hope that I will get over it eventually.

Phyllis DeGioia
December 5, 2016

Hi Debbie, I'm sorry you're struggling with Charlie - I can certainly understand that. It is difficult to take into consideration all the factors, but I think you must do something one way or another about Charlie. You are currently not able to have visitors, you have both sustained multiple instances of multiple bites within 18 months (has Charlie bitten your husband more than one time?), and you've been having nightmares about what could have happened to the child who climbed into your yard; he's on medication, he's seen a behaviorist, he's had teeth removed, and you say you are at your wit's end. What would you say to a friend in the same situation? No one should have to live with a dog they are afraid of, and that includes nightmares about "what if." My heart is with you - please check in with us..

December 5, 2016

We are struggling with the decision of whether to put down our basset, Charlie. We adopted him about 1.5 years ago. We think he is about 4 years old. He was so skinny when we got him. When we picked him up his foster Mom told me he had a slight food aggression. He has attacked me with multiple bites about 5 times in the past 18 months. The are sudden attacks with multiple bites. Had to have 8 stitches in thigh and several doctor visits with the other bites. He is on Prozac. We saw a certified pet behaviorist and she can't pinpoint his triggers. We had his canine teeth removed about 6 months ago hoping that would stop the damage if he did bite. He has since bitten me again with a severe bite on my thumb. We try to walk him once or twice daily. He bite my husband 3 days later. At the time we were both petting him and suddenly he attacked with no warning. We can't have company because he is very territorial. We have 2 other bassets and he is not aggressive towards them unless they approach him while he is eating. Nothing serious between him and the other two bassets. About 2 months ago a neighbors 4 year old climbed the fence and came into our back yard and on our deck. My husband happened to come home early that day and saw him before the dogs. He grabbed him up and took him out of our house. I have nightmares about what could have happened if my husband hadn't gone home early that day. I don't know if Charlie would have attacked the child or not. We are at our wits end on what to do. 99% of the time he is so sweet and loving. It is as if he has two personalities. My husband wants to try him on a different med for depression but I really think it is a neurological problem. Thanks for letting me get this off my chest. Any comments would be appreciated.

November 24, 2016

I know you wrote much of this a long time ago, but I want to thank you for it. We had our beloved terrier mix, Barley, put down a week ago, and we are both in pain. We had worked with a behaviorist and her trainers and put our dog on Prozac, but his aggression just got worse. He had bitten us both in the face, and the night before we put him down, he lunged repeatedly at my partner when my partner was trying to put him on leash for a walk. That was what determined our decision. Everything you wrote about rings so true to me. We didn't love Barley any less because we made this horrible decision. We knew we couldn't keep ourselves (or, potentially, others) safe, and that determined our decision. I, like you, feel as if I can never trust myself to choose a healthy, nonaggressive dog again. I am glad (and you give me hope) that you feel you could again adopt a dog. Thank you for sharing your story. I know you know this, but you are so very much not alone. A lot of us have experienced this, and it is extremely traumatic.

November 22, 2016

My first Corgi was the love of my life. I always said that Jesus dropped her from heaven to bless my life immeasurably. He took her back after 7 short years. I knew that the hole in my heart would never heal until I got another corgi. All Corgis are like my sweet Muffin aren't they? I thought this was true and went looking for a rescue. I found a 5 yr. old female in Alabama that had been surrendered because her elderly owner had passed away. She was aggressive with the other pets in the home and had territorial and food aggression. I had no other pets and thought she would be fine in our loving home. The owner's son never mentioned biting. She was welcomed in our home at 5 yrs. old. I learned right away that she did not like any affection. You could pet her head but she would walk away after a few minutes.The second week, my brother came to visit with his precious little Maltese. The first day was great and they got along well. The second morning, the Maltese must have disturbed her as she napped and my rescue attacked her. By the grace of God and intervention of my brother and husband, she was not killed. Since that day 4 yrs ago, she has bitten me 4 times on my hand and wrist. Very viscious, tearing , ripping bites. She will not release and continues biting until there are multiple wounds. The last bite had two gashes needing 5 stitches. She attacked my grandson's feet on two occasions so we quickly learned to crate her when children are over. When we take a walk she is agreessive with every dog we meet.  She has bitten my husband, nephew, and grandson and attacks the feet of anyone leaving our house.  We have tried to manage our household to prevent any issues. We walk on eggshells around her never knowing what may set her off. My adult children are afraid to come home from college and are very scared that she may seriously injure me or my husband. I am at the place where I must choose whether to take a chance on a terrible accident or let her humanely cross over to the bridge. I have cried for days now. Despite all of her aggressive issues, I love her dearly. We have an appt. to discuss our options with her vet. My heart is broken!

November 17, 2016

I am in the same situation as all of you, and I am dying inside.  I adopted Vinnie almost 7 years ago, knowing he had fear aggression problems. I was his 3rd home in a year when I got him. Like everyone else, I thought I could love and train him through it, and I did, for 6 years.  Over the years he has bitten pretty much all my family and friends, at least once, but thankfully they have all been understanding and a few went on to forge a great relationship with Vinnie.  For many years I have lived a fairly isolated life because it's very difficult to have people over, or go out of town, because I don't have many people who can take care of him for me.  I got married last year, and my husband and his then 6 year old daughter moved in.  Vinnie had nipped at her before, and so we decided to put him in intense behavioral training.  We were diligent from day 1, and while he did improve in other areas (barking, obedience), he did not improve with aggression, often directed toward her.  We did lots of exercises trying to integrate them, and at least get him to the point of just ignoring her, even if they were never to be friends.  He never warmed up to her, and managing his environment has become increasingly taxing on me, because I am the only person he really is ok with.  He can never be loose while she at our house (5 days out of the week), he lunges at her frequently (though he is restrained and cannot get to her), and to top it all off, I'm 5 months pregnant.  Monday my step daughter was out in our front yard, and Vinnie was tethered to our carport in the back yard.  He somehow broke free, made a beeline to her, knocked her down, and bit her leg.  My husband had to pull him off.  We also have 3 neighbor children under 6 years old.  In a way, I was "lucky" it was our child, because otherwise we would have a lawsuit on our hands.  I now know that was the last straw and I cannot afford to have him in our home, especially with a baby on the way.  He is completely unpredictable (has bitten me before), and I can't manage his environment 100% of the time.  My heart is in a million pieces because I have been "his person" for the last 7 years.  I was the one person who didn't give up weeks in and return him to the shelter.  We share an incredible bond, and the thought of not having him anymore literally makes me sick to my stomach.  The guilt is overwhelming.  I have put my heart and soul, not to mention a chunk of money, into rehabilitating him, but I can't risk the safety of my family.  Plus, his life is becoming more and more restricted, as he has to be confined almost 24/7.  I feel my only option, and the most humane one, is to put him down.  Knowing his fears, anxieties, and aggressions, I feel the cruelest thing I could do is send him back to the shelter or try to rehome.  Not only do I feel it would be irresponsible to rehome him because of his bite history, but I also know he would be scared to death without me.  I have cried for 3 days and nights since he attacked my step daughter.  Despite my reservations about rehoming him, I did reach out to my trainer to see if she knew anyone who could take him (no luck).  We will likely take him to the vet Saturday.  I am so sad and riddled with guilt.  I feel like I am just throwing him away, but it isn't fair for the rest of my family and friends to live in fear and potential danger.  What a horrible decision we've all had to make.

Phyllis DeGioia
November 16, 2016

Hi Charlie, I know you're scared, but bringing in a behaviorist is the best thing you can do for your dog. It's more than just possible that the behaviorist will be able to help. Your dog has bitten three times with visitors in the house, plus biting her beloved owner - it's definitely time to reach out for help. I urge you to do this as soon as possible, for your dog's sake. Good luck

Charlie Pup
November 16, 2016

Our dog got better for a while and especially after we moved out of a house with other dogs. But we had company in our new house for the first time (after 3.5 weeks) and she bit them on 3 separate occasions. She bit me today too. I know her 'triggers' and I think that is part of why it's been so long without an incident (and we got complacent) until now. We haven't taken her to a behaviourist or anything yet but I'm so scared there's nothing we can do... it makes me cry a lot.

Phyllis DeGioia
November 14, 2016

Hi Alexandra, I caution against assuming what the veterinary behaviorist will say until she actually says it. Get her opinion, and then decide what to do about your situation. My heart is with you.

Alexandra Fenton
November 14, 2016

I'm struggling with this situation right now--I'm at the Veterinary Behaviourist stage.  I think I know what she's going to tell me, and I'm devastated.  Thank you so much for writing this--it helps to know of someone else has gone through this.

November 13, 2016

Thank you for writing this.  I am still grappling with what to do with my two rescues (littermates who have now bit three different people in 18 months).  I am so heartbroken and torn but your writing at least lets me know I am not alone.

Lisa D
November 11, 2016

It's been over a year since I had to put down my girl...and I still feel guilt and I still grieve.  I keep thinking maybe there was 'one more thing' I could do, or maybe I should've moved to some remote island where there were no other people.  This site is helpful in the grieving process thank you.

Phyllis DeGioia
November 7, 2016

Hi Tess, You have gone above and beyond for this little one, and you are near the breaking point with frustration. You and your other dogs deserve to live in peace. The guilt others can produce in us when we do not live up to their expectations is sometimes unbearable; guilt is a powerful weapon, and it puts you in a terrible position. The people who would give you this guilt are implicitly expecting you to give up peace in your home - when you have done so much for this poor dog, who is still miserable - and remain this way until the dog's natural death. I'd say he has a very low quality of life, and he is lowering yours and those of your other dogs. Dr. Oursler's suggestion of asking someone else to take him is right on target. I suggest you notify everyone who you feel matters that you are no longer willing to sacrifice the happiness of your other dogs for this one, and say that if no one takes him in a month, you will return him to the shelter. You have to do something for your sake and that of your other dogs, and surrendering him at a shelter is one way to do it. They will still disapprove, I'm afraid, but we cannot live our lives as others see fit; we have to do what is best for us. I wish you all peace.

Teri Ann Oursler, DVM
November 7, 2016

Tess, As I read your story, I am feeling your pain and depression and I feel the need to reach out to you with some of my thoughts. This dog, while only 7 pounds, can absolutely do some severe, life-altering damage.  A bite to the face or hands can cause permanent disfigurement or you could lose ability to use your hand or hands.  And if he bites a child, this danger is even greater. This dog is not happy.  He is living in his own personal hell and he is dragging you and your other dogs with you into that dark place.  That is not fair to any of you!  Some dogs are just not wired right, and nothing you do can fix that - you have tried! If your fellow volunteers believe that he can be rehabilitated, that it is wrong for you to consider euthanasia, then ask one of them to step up and take him to see what they can do to make him into a happy family pet.  Let them walk a mile in your moccasins.  Just make sure they realize the danger they will be putting themselves and their families into by taking this dog on. I wish you luck in your decision making.  It is never easy, if it were, you would not be the person you are.

November 7, 2016

For many years I''ve fostered dogs for several reputable rescue  groups.  Each dog had been labeled for rescue only by our local city dog shelter. Rescue only because of inappropriate behaviors displayed at the shelter. All of the dogs i have fostered have been small and toy breed dogs. Each progressed nicely at my home with a time fir decompression and positive reinforcement behavior methods.   Each were successfully adopted to forever families (last count was 17 dogs in three years). However one Chihuahua who was terrified at the shelter, hiding in the bedding in his kennel and who had to be removed using a towel placed over him has barely progressed in two years. He has not been adopted. He displays fear aggression, has episodes of rage type behavior. Hackles up, lips drawn back.   I have worked with a highly reputable Behaviorist, i have modified my life style and tried hard to manage his environment in order to help him feel calm. He recently started on anti anxiety medication and so far i see no change for the better.  He is dog and people aggressive. I am tired. It is hard to leave for more than a day because no one wants to take care of him. I have 2 other small breed dogs who avoid him like the plague.  The behaviorist pointed out to me that not only is this poor soul very unbalanced and must feel miserable but  my other 2 balanced dogs are dealing with the havoc he causes.  No one understands what this is like and although friends and family have experienced his fits of rage they all,say well he is only 7 lbs so what can he really do ?  At times my other 2 dogs mimic his charging at the door behavior when he sees someone outside and then i feel so frustrated.  He has had a full medical evaluation with bloodwork which come back within normal ranges.  There are moments when i just sit and cry because i feel helpless in my own house with just wanting some peace. I am an animal advocate, a shelter volunteer and a long time dog foster and just about everyone i volunteer with would turn their backs on me if i have him euthanized.   This is a difficult and depressing place to be.  Bless you all.

November 1, 2016

It's been a year and half now since we've had our beautiful boy put to sleep. I find this site comforting as I still think of him every day, still feel the enormous guilt and wonder if I made the right decision.  I know it's pointless thinking that way as it's done and he's gone.  Everybody where we live said we'd done the right thing but it doesn't help.  It makes me angry to read the comments from people saying they can't understand why people will euthanize a dog "just because it bit".  These aren't nips they are real bites that need treatment - in our case anyway.  We gave it 5 years and made numerous excuses, got him training, went to the vet etc etc, just like everyone else.  The bites were never provoked and just happened. And he was never abused, in fact he was spoilt rotten most of the time and was a funny and loving dog.  It's not an easy decision to make, it's the hardest you will EVER make. So please, don't judge us as taking the easy way's not.

October 31, 2016

Thank you your article has helped me as I am heart broken I had to put my three year  old beautiful Doberman to sleep on Friday.   I have two other dogs a Westie and another older Doberman  and from the age of about 9 months she started attacking the Westie for no reason grabbing her by the neck and shaking her.  We were shocked as she had been such a lovely puppy and the other Doberman had such a lovely temperament.  The Westie soon learned to stay out of her way.  She also would not let strangers or visitors near her without barking madly .  This we could live with.  We took her to behaviour classes and socialised her in the same way we had with the other dogs and thought she would be ok as she showed no aggression toward us in fact she loved me and was like my shadow I loved her so much she was bright and clever and beautiful.  Then one day for no apparent reason about 2 years ago she attacked the other Doberman causing a horrific dog fight my husband got badly bitten in the hand breaking it up the older Doberman was badly injured and had to have stitching and medication.  Still we would not give up on her.  We learnt to live with her by hating off parts of the house and avoiding anything which might trigger her behaviour.  Then on a walk she bit a jogger  who reported it to the police and I had to go to the police station luckily I got off with a caution because I explained all we were doing to control her behaviour.  The next incident in August this year was another horrific fight which happened when I was out and my husband was feeding them alone.  Again we tried to brush it under the carpet and carry on living in a constant state of vigilance.  I was crying for days after this incident as she loved me so much and I loved her she was my best dog she was so affectionate with me.  We then decided to send her on a residential behaviour school.  She was gone for 3 weeks and when she came back seemed slightly better with strangers and visitors we prayed that finally we could live in harmony with all 3 dogs.  But this was to be short lived.  Two weeks ago while on the leash she suddenly jumped at a man and bit him on the stomach .  My daughter then told me she had done the same while on a walk with her and actually drawn blood by biting a mans leg!   I told myself that if anything else bad happened I would have no choice .. hoping against all hope that we would be better st managing her behaviour and that is was all our fault.  Then last Monday for no reason at all she jumped on the Westie and shook her like a rat .  It was so upsetting as the Westie is 12 and so docile she was deeply traumatised .  Still I hoped.. the last straw was Friday someone knocked at front door she went mad barking and jumping at the door .  The other Doberman was standing near looking at the door and suddenly she lunged at her and another horrific fight happened.  I tried to seperate them and got bitten but didn't care I just wanted them to stop.  Luckily as this has happened so many times before I had read that s CO2 fire extinguisher can stop dog fights and had bought one in case .  I set off the fire extinguisher and the older Doberman escaped to my daughters bedroom.  I was deeply traumatised.  I phoned the vet as I was alone my husband was out of the country and my daughter at college .  The vet said to bring her down as remarkably straight after the attack she was normal again.  This is why I feel so so guilty I took her to the vet and they sedated her while I went to hospital to get my wounds dressed.  It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make and I am consumed with guilt I loved her so much and only wanted the best for her .  I made the right decision for my other dogs  .  The vet gave me little choice when I went back with my other dog to get her wounds dressed .  She said some dogs have a genetic fault or have faulty wiring in their brain.  And however much training she had and however much love we gave her she could not have changed.   But I keep thinking what else could I have done I feel terrible and I miss her so much this is the most pain I can suffer .  So thank you for all the stories on here it is a comfort to know that other people know what I am going through  Katharine

Pat M
October 16, 2016

I had to put down a lovely 2 year old beautiful soul 3 days ago. I am horrified that she bit me and my husband as well as both of my other two dogs, out of the blue. This happened 4 times over the space of 6 months, not all at once. When my husband and I decided to put Heidi to sleep, we cried and cried but the vet said that it needed to be done, especially with the injuries to the rest of the household. I am in the process of grief and have so much guilt, but I have come to the realization that Heidi was terrorizing the house. The oddest thing is, she was a beautiful black 'mutt' and the other two dogs (rescues) are pit bulls. Connie and Junior have both come from abusive homes and have had behavior therapy because of it. The have not and do not fight, at all. Heidi brought a wide streak of violence into our home. She was here for 6 1/2 months (we were the home of last resort for our friends who run a shelter, expreienced foster parents for dogs, we are a couple with no children) and now that she is gone I realize our home's dynamic had changed for the worse. I am only beginning to see how much I wanted Heidi to 'understand' that she was safe. I think that the abuse was too much for her, I believe that she was getting more violent. I also believe that no matter how much I am second guessing myself, I did the right thing. My husband was bitten on the face, hand and foot and I was bitten on the hand (I still have tendon damage) these injuries were bad enough, my dogs had worse treatment and are now very upset. I will not be allowing another dog into the house until my Connie and Junior have passed on (they are both around 9) and I have guilt about that too. I am so sad. I miss Heidi, because on her good days she was so adorable. The fact that my friends, the vet, the shelter, and my heart tells me that I did the right thing just does not make it better and never will.

Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM
October 25, 2016

This is a quick note from the VetzInsight team:  Breaking up dog fights, especially with bare hands (or any other body part) is incredibly dangerous.  Please do NOT ever attempt to break up a dog fight alone or using any part of your body.

October 25, 2016

I am not judging anyone's decision but as aomeone who has rescued now 4 dogs it kills me that as my Archimedes experienced...people stomped on his puppy collie toes for (training), hit him, loud male voices send him running to hide in my lap.  He is a collie and big and barks at strangers ....what I told you of the abuse afflicted upon him was a mere fraction before they dumped him in the deep Wisconsin Forrest in winter not realizing the breeder chipped him.  Thank god they relinquished him to a rescue....I hold that responsibility sacred and I was looking for advice online and up pops a site on euthanizing.   I just feel with what humans have dolled out I am going to do everything i can to help him and if he is still too afraid we will avoid those situations and use a soft muzzle.That being said an ex of mine had two rescued pit bulls and brought a foster over.  I did everything right, no food out, no toys etc. within 2 minutes of being let out of the cage the female foster bit Archie (huge normally sweet male) she bit him on the ear, he yelped and when she didn't let go all hell broke loose....i dragged the other male outside as Archie and the female were tearing each other apart, i used my hands, body everything to try and stop it....when he started to shake her like a rag doll i dove between the, and pushed them to the sliding glass door...somehow i shoved her out and pulled Shrekkie in.....the kitchen was covered in blood pools of it, i was wearing all white and the blood all over Petuna and myself baked in the sun....she was close to death and she licked my wounds. ..$5,000 later she lived turns out she was a "bait" or practice dog....she went to a family with no children and no other animals.  This was five years ago and I still have flashbacks ....I didn't sleep for a week after that.  I just hope that those animals that can be helped or rehomed to someone willing to deal with imperfections and flaws ....are actually rehomed rather than euthanized.  There are more of us double income no kids who find joy in showing an abused animal the way to love ....which is hopefully what i will find on the other pages Best wishes to you all

Ava Henderson-ronchetti
October 19, 2016

I first laid eyes on Bleu when he was 3 weeks old.. grey hair and little white dots on the nail tips...when he opened his eyes. I knew what I'd call him. I bottle fed him and he slept with me until he was about 8 weeks.. potty trained easily and was was getting walks with my other dogs a 2 yr old Shepard and 10 yr old Boxer.. about 9 months he started to show aggression and fight with the boxer. It was horrible. My Shepard had grown extremely close to him and at times they both would attack my poor boxer... I would just keep them separated as much as possible. A few yrs later The boxer passed. I got divorced then I had just the two.. Then Bleu started asserting Dominance with The Shepard.. he would take his treats. When I gave them treats together, he would wait for the Shepard to finish his treat, then prance with his treat around his face and head.. how odd! I thought. If the shaped went near him when he had a treat, he would growl. Sometimes he would leave the treat on the floor and walk away...waiting for the Shepard to go for it..he would then attack him,. My Shepard is 100lbs and much taller then Bleu @60lbs.. soon they started fighting ...alot. then the Shepard would just shy away.. let him take the treats, let him lay on his bed or not allow him in the room with us. One night my friend was over,Bleu was sleeping but got up after an hour or so to walk down stairs, my friend touched his back in a jostling sort of way. BLEU IMMEDIATELY turned and bit his bicep. Whoa! That startled us both.. he never trusted the dog again. Then he bit my son's friend. He went to pet him as he sat in the corner... he had taken to doing that...just going into the corner and staring back at you as if you forced him to the area..he looked almost fearful. As if he'd done something?... I also noticed that he had shied away from pats and affection..One evening he was sick, he threw up on the floor..I went to clean it up and he growled..I said; "it's okay boy..and I started cleaning it up.. he lunged at me, biting my right forearm! He broke the skin! I tell you I chased him down to the crate, he went in, I locked the door and I screamed and yelled@at him.. I couldn't believe he would bite me.. I never hit him or abused him in any way.. I thought about getting rid of him then, but I thought it's just because he way sick. I startled him.. about 9 Mos later, he bit my girlfriend as she sat on the patio. He kept jumping on her.. he wanted to give affection.. you couldn't give it to him. He had to give it to you. She pushed him away and he just became angry and bit her thumb and hand. She got 4 stitches..when i took him to the vet after the quarantine for the certificate of health aND rabie shots. I asked the vet to gI've hI'm sone thing bease hes so anoxious aND my bit out of fear.. the medition made him woozy..he disn't lIke it..he turned su per aggressive once he realized they vet aND the tech wa Ted to touch him.. i had not been able to muzzle him, in the we walked him to the door..when he was half way out the tech closed the door on his body a bit, his head was outside with me and his body, with them. He got his shots.. that was a mess. They also said that sometimes the sedative can work oppositely.. really??. Now, a few months later, this past Sunday, I was getting ready for the gym. He had come in the bathroom with me..when he comes in he won't allow the Shepard in. He will growl and fight him if he tries. I'd noticed he had a tick on his forehead, since he won't let me pet him, wash him or touch him I was trying to lure him with treats. None of it worked.. so now, here he is sitting on my side and I figured I would just flick it off. It was so engorged..I knew it would fall off with little effort. I flicked it...he turned to me growling, teeth bared and lunged at my right forearm ..he tore a gashinto my forearm so viciously i needed 6 stiches!I  managed to kick him away. he rain down the stairs into his crate. I went right after him and closed the door. I called my son to come take me to the hospital.. it's been 3 days..I'm waiting for the 10 day quarantine ..a friend wants him saying he can rehab him..he has a 9 yr old daughter. No way. I'm waiting for an animal behaviorist. .I already know what I must do..I will not live in fear.

October 18, 2016

I'm crying right now as I've been reading this article and the first couple of comments. I have a 14 year old rat terrier mix. He has vision issues and has been treated by a veterinary ophthalmologist for 5 years. His eye drops have gone from treating with a drop am and pm, to 4 different eye drops, a total of 14 a day in the last few months. This is for life. He's always been anxious and has preferred play over petting (has never liked to be touched), and now snaps and bares his teeth frequently when I try to administer drops. He has arthritis in his front left leg which causes him pain, and I give him Rimadyl as needed, which is bad for his liver. He's started sleeping a lot, can't use his dog ramp to get up on the bed, so I've  started restricting him to the downstairs. This is stressful for him because he's always slept leaning against my leg. I live alone and don't have help. I cry every day and my days are now structured around getting drops in his eyes at 5 am, 6 pm and before bed. He won't come when called because he knows the eye drops are coming. And there has to be at least 5 minutes between the drops so one doesn't wash out the other. I truly don't know what to do. He's getting a blood workup this Friday. I'm afraid to euthanize because I don't know if it's time, and he has times where he's just himself, but the older version. thank you for letting me unload. This is so darned hard.  Linda

October 17, 2016

As another commenter, I too have tears streaming as I write this.  My 9 mth old dachshund just bit me for the 3rd time in 3 days, this time drawing blood.  I knew when I got him at 8 wks there might be trouble because even though he was a "registered", the breeders were basically running a puppy mill.  I thought by rescuing this baby and giving him plenty of love attention would make him into a sweet loving boy dachshund.  but the inbreeding that was done has reared its ugly head, and I know it will only get worse.  this article has helped me make the right decision for this situation.  thank you so much.

October 15, 2016

I have tears streaming as I type.  We adopted a wonderful lab/sheep mix two years ago.  He was 1.5 years old.   What we knew was that he was rescued from a kill shelter very young and taken from mom.   Adopted by another family with two large dogs. They returned him two months prior to us.  No idea why.  They kept their other dogs.  He was sweet and shy in the shelter.  Very calm and not barking.  I've know come to know that he was in shelter shock.  Also that he likes the crate/kennel.  It's where he is safe.   We took him home.  We noticed he didn't like strangers, the doorbell and we couldn't have people over without keeping him leashed.   We had a trainer recommended who deals with dogs with what I have no come to realize is fear aggression.  It was ok until my husband misread his cues and took him out to meet a neighbor.  He issued a warning and then lunged and bit.  Grade 1.   That induced many tears and the decision to send him to intensive training.   We learned even more of how to deal with him.  We cautioned that he should not be out when people are over.  He likes his crate, so that wasn't an issue.  He allayed my guilt about that.  What he did say quite clearly is that he has severe fear aggression.  He is great with us.  Never attacked, can take food, hug, run, etc,   But today he accidentally escaped the house and my son and friend were in the garage.  Unprovoked he jump and bit his friend twice.  Slight puncture.  As I type he is sitting here with me.  I am devasted but we are taking him in tomorrow. Love you Tucker.

Linda Corson
October 15, 2016

Fear can be worse than pain. A dog who is anxious and afraid can be suffering as much as a dog whose body is in pain. Imagine being a home with a broken ankle compared to being abducted, tied up in the back of a van, two strangers driving, heading west on the turnpike.

October 14, 2016

I'm so glad I found this site and to know I'm not alone.  I just put my 4 year old black lab Kirby down.  I got Kirby as a puppy from a back yard breeder.  I thought what can go wrong with a black lab?  Sweetest dogs ever.  It started out so good.  He was the sweetest dog ever.  He loved everyone.  Then around a year old we started to noticed he didn't like strangers.  He started growling at my kid's friends and when my niece came over he sat by her and growled all evening.  So we thought no big deal we will just put him outside when company comes.  So that's what we did.  When I took him to the vet and he lunged at the tech they told me he was fear driven and warned me to keep his shots update because he would bite someone.  But I loved him more than anything and when no strangers around he was the most loving dog ever.  He loved my parents and my in-laws so when we wanted to go away they could help out taking care of him. All was good and then we moved.  Right after the move our other dog his best buddy got sick and suddenly passed away. Kirby seemed sad and lonely so we got a puppy.  He loved the puppy so all was good again.  But suddenly he started growling at my husband.  When my husband would reach out to pet him he would snap at him. As soon as he did it he would be crawling up in my husband's lap as if to say he was sorry he didn't mean it.  This went on for a few weeks.  He got in bed with my daughter and when she reached out to pet him she snapped at her and left a bruise.  The last straw was a dinner one night.  Kirby was sitting beside me and I leaned in to talk to him and he tried to bite my face.  He grazed my cheek with his teeth although he didn't break the skin it hurt.  I knew this was the end.  I couldn't let this dog bite someone.  I called the vet on a Thursday to have him evaluated and I couldn't get an appointment until the following Tuesday.  I had to look into those eyes for those few days and thought I would die.  The vet said the move and changes just turned his world upside down.  She aid they could medicate him get a dog behaviorist but there was no guarantee he wouldn't bite someone.  I couldn't risk it with kids in the house so I made that dreaded decision and put my boy down.  I found out that Kirby's mother showed signs of aggression but was bred anyway.  I'm angry at the breeder but I should have known better too.  My heart feels like it's in a million pieces.  The crying is getting better and I know in the end I made the right  choice.  95% of the time Kirby was a sweet loving dog but there was a disconnect in his brain that could never be fixed and he probably would have bit someone eventually.  I just pray I never have to make that choice again.  Thank you for your article.  It helps to know that I'm not alone.

October 12, 2016

We adopted our 3rd dog, a 1 year old bloodhound, from a rescue group 3 years ago. She is now 4 years old, 100 pounds, and has had food/treat/toy guarding issues from the beginning which we can easily manage. She also guards the couches and our bed which are the major issues. She will growl and get vicious when you try to remove her or just sit or lay next to her. She also does not like to be manipulated or corrected. She has bitten my husband several times (puncturing and drawing blood once in his foot) and me a few times in the hands (no blood). Sometimes she sits quietly with us on the couch and wants to be petted, but will then mouth or growl when she's had enough. We just stop petting her then.  There have been a few skirmishes with the other dogs, but no injuries. Sometimes when she's on the couch alone, she will growl even when you're just walking by. My husband has had enough of her and I'm to the point where I'm stressed too much trying to make excuses for her and blaming my husband for triggering her when I shouldn't. He's not triggering her. The last bed confrontation the other night, she bit me and would not back down or stop guarding,  even after I hit her with the leash I was trying to loop around her neck to get her off the bed.. It upset me to hit her. My husband has held back from physically punishing her in my presence though I know he wanted to. I surprised myself that I punished her and now fear I've lost my control and could not expect my husband to restrain himself if it happens again. I am sick that I've lost my patience with her.  The rescue group said they would not take her back and if they did, they would euthanize her. We had a full blood panel done 2 years ago and all checked out. She has also been on fluoxetine for 2 years, but I must confess I am inconsistent with giving it to her. I'm tired of battling my husband over her and have made an appointment to have her euthanized tomorrow and it's breaking my heart. I feel I haven't tried hard enough and am taking the easy (yet hard) way out. Am I making the right decision?

Brett J
September 30, 2016

We have a little Russian toy called timber. Yesterday he bit my partner, not for the first time , but definitely the worst. We knew what we had to do. But it was an awful feeling. The right decision but not the easy one. I don't know the trauma our little rescue endured, but I know he's at peace now. Your article made an awful decision just a little easier. Thank you

September 28, 2016

I'm searching online sites tonight for an answer, even though I know what I must do. Your stories are comforting and heartbreaking. Today, our 6 year old lab mix attacked my 6 year old grandson, completely unprovoked. Thank God my grandson's injuries are mild. It could have been so bad. Kemp was part of a litter of 13 pups found abandoned in a barn when they were just a couple days old. He and his litter mates were all taken to foster families, bottle fed , and returned to a very good shelter to be  adopted at 6 weeks of age - and we have had him ever since. He was extremely easy to train, good with us and all members of our family when they visited, from infants to grandparents the first few years. He truly was a gentle giant. A couple years ago my husband and I went on vacation. Our 30 year old daughter offered to look after him. Kemp has been a kennel dog since the first day home and willingly goes in his kennel to sleep. He has a huge fenced in back yard to play in and spends lots of time inside with us as well. When my daughter came to let him out of his kennel, he became vicious. Growling, baring teeth, barking aggressively, hair standing up, etc. All this when all she was attempting to do is open his kennel. She left. We came home early, he was perfectly fine with us. But he has been agressive acting toward anyone who comes to our home ever since. We of course have always made sure he was either in his kennel or backyard when others are here to protect them. Today, he got in the sliding glass door and lunged at my grandson, knocking him down, clamping his teeth on his arm. My daughter was shoving him away and I was able to grab his collar, thank God, and get him outside. As I grabbed his collar, he let go of my grandson and bit my forearm. 5 puncture wounds. Fortunately, my daughter and grandson do not have broken skin, with the exception of a couple scratches from his paws. I'm sick. I know he needs to be put down. And I know we will. I will never risk anyone else getting harmed. It's just so hard to understand how this little creature that we have shown so much love to and he has been so gentle and kind 99% of the time, could do this. Just appreciate a place to get my thoughts out to others who understand. Thank you.

Phyllis DeGioia
September 27, 2016

Hi Robin, I know how difficult this decision is, and I'm sorry you're facing it. The guilt you feel is small compared to what you would have felt had Otis killed the dog, killed one of your dogs, or harmed your newborn baby. Many of the other commenters didn't have the experience of their dog severely injuring another dog quite so soon after the dog joined the family. I'm grateful that you did not pass his problems on to someone else - the stress of the move might have made him worse, you don't know. I hope you come to peace with it, as I did; my whole household was calmer and happier afterwards. I hope yours is too. My heart is with you, and congratulations on your baby!

September 26, 2016

I'm really glad I found this page. I feel much less alone already. I just had our dog Otis euthanized this morning. I feel TERRIBLE. We rescued him in February; he was a stray, large pitbull mix, and our vet said he was about 6 months old. He has always been gentle and sweet with people, and at first, he was also great with our other dog, Bella, and our three cats. After about a month with us, he became aggressive with the cats. This led to some minor injuries, but we more or less successfully kept the cats separate from him. And he continued to get along with Bella just fine. Then he started selectively showing aggression toward other dogs. He fought with the dogs of one of our friends back in April, though none of the dogs were critically injured. Then on Saturday, he almost killed our neighbor's dog. I was there the whole time; the incident was completely unprovoked, Otis showed NO warning that he was going to bite, and our neighbor's dog did not retaliate. We spent over $500 getting the neighbor's dog stitched back together. We loved Otis, and we wanted to keep him and keep working with him. But I am having a baby in 10 weeks (!!!) and caring for four other pets, and we don't have a lot of money... So what could I have done?? He was SO loving and sweet with us and with Bella, but since we could never predict when or with whom he would become aggressive, how could we have felt safe having our baby around him?? I feel guilty, because he was so young, and our story is not like many on this page where owners went through years of training and repeated aggressions before finally euthanizing. I feel like I didn't give him enough time. But I was afraid, and I didn't know what else we could do, and I didn't feel like I could responsibly burden another family with him. Or, worse, what if in trying to re-home him, someone got ahold of him who fights pit bulls and abused him??? I already miss him, and I feel insanely guilty. My ONLY relief is knowing that this ends with me- no one else will ever hurt Otis, and Otis will never hurt anyone else.

September 16, 2016

I had a dog returned at age 10 from the owner who claimed he was without work and the dog had been growling at his toddler and nipping. He also mentioned the dog had dog aggression with no real attempts of attack. My contract as breeder of this dog requires the owner to surrender at any time during the life of the dog so as not to fill up shelters. We rehabilitate and sometimes adopt out to another home. In all my years in dogs this is the first owner surrender. The owner left out many details and upon collecting the dog it is evident he was not abused, but neglected. All his litter mates went on to live well adjusted in their respective homes. There is a huge suture wound within a mass that is clear an incision to remove the contents of the mass were removed. It was an old scar and the suture staples remained in place. The owner denied ever having surgery n the dog and became angry at me when I asked about the results of the presumed biopsy. We never got the full story from this owner. He said the dog growled at and nipped his toddler but when pressed about aggression he said it was more because he snatched food from her. The story seemed evasive at best. My guess is he did not want to put the dog down and passed the issues onto me. This dog did go after another dog today while out ona bike ride with me. I had good control until the other owners dog went to the end of its leash to approach my dog. My dog suddenly snapped in the oppisite direction pulling me off my bike and onto the ground sustaining injuries. The owner screaming and swining at my dog (her dog was twice his size and biting back) hit my dog like a fool screaming you don't bite another dog EVER! She turned her rage on me about not having my dog under control. I said your dog snapped to the end of her leash too and I am sorry is she ok? She said to get the hell out of here with my dog etc. I tried to stay calm despite her verbal and physical assault on my dog after my dog no longer was after her dog. She could have been bitten. I think she needed a muzzle. The driver of the car blocking the street with whom she was speaking then started screaming at me about controlling my dog and asking me where I lived. I tried to explain what happened and she was ugly and vicious about it and drove off while I was tring to be reasonable. The same lady with the big dog had been walking down the st two days prior when I stopped to ask how her dog was doing. Her dog was off leash and walking down the street ahead of her. Is this under control? She did not recognize me as the same person. This dog that was returned tome seems to be having issues with dementia and growling into space while lying on the floor. He is good with my elderly parents but I am now worried I cannot stop this weird behavior. I am a trainer - not a behaviorist - but do have many years of dog training exhibiting and rescue. I think the owner was not forthcoming about the real reason for surrendering the dog. I furthermore resent those vets indicating a healthy dog should not be euthanized for aggression - but aggression is not healthy and could kill a person or another animal. Many dog owners have experience and savvy with animal care. To be told we are murderers or failures at ownership for electing to minimize our risk in a dog that can potentially turn on owners does nothing to help and does everything to shame and guilt owners. The shelter I spoke with at length agrees this is a case of dementia and not much can be done if the dog is attacking another animal despite establishing alpha roles and obedience training with behavior modification. One vet office said I should look into other options. She indicated I should place him with a single person home on fenced acreage as though that was logical. Should this dog escape? What then? Criminally held responsible for damages! It happens. Dogs are NOT humans no matter how we insist - they have teeth and a mind of their own despite methodology and medication that may or may not help. It tears out my heart to think I placed a perfectly nice balanced puppy and got this aggression surrendered back.

September 16, 2016

Firstly, thank you Phyllis and all of the other posters who've shared their stories and let me know I am not alone. We adopted our rescue dog from an SPCA shelter 10 years ago, we begged the agency to speed up our home inspection so she would be in her forever home in time for Christmas, and she was. We knew we specifically wanted a rescue doggie, we decided we would not pick a puppy since they are mostly adopted out quicker and at our local shelters there was a large population of pitbulls and pitbull mixes that were just languishing in the shelter, many of whom would be eventually be euthanized. She was 3 when we got her. Very sweet and loving, very spoiled as she was the baby of the household. We knew she was an owner surrender, told that her previous young owners had now had their own baby and didn't have time to care for her any longer. After getting her settled in the house we suspect she may have been abused.brooms scared her, the noise of opening garbage bags scared her, the noise of unrolling aluminum foil scared her. We just worked as a family to make sure she felt loved and safe. About 3 years later we adopted another rescue dog and the 2 were best of friends. Then as time went on she got aggressive with him. Attacking him twice, leading to us spending the next 3 years playing musical chairs by never having them both in the same room or even area of the house at the same time. I was fearful that if we surrendered either dog that they would be put down. Unfortunately our boy dog passed from cancer 3 years ago. Priss was back to being an only dog and we decided it would stay that way. 2 years ago we relocated to several states away and continued our family life here. She was even very good caged for the 3 days worth of driving to get here to our new state. New bigger house, bigger yard, lots of squirrels to chase and plenty of spots to sunbathe. That girl loved to sunbathe! She was getting older and unable to jump up into our bed any more. We bought her stairs, nope, didn't like those. Bought her a carpeted ramp, nope, didn't like that either. So for almost the last  2 years every night my husband or I would pick her up to put her in the bed and pick her up to help her get down in the morning. The Christmas before last she lunged at and scratched our 18 year old daughter,she was adjusting the skirt under the tree and one of the dogs Christmas toys was under there. So we excused it. Our daughter was now scared of her so we kept the dog away from her. A few months ago she snapped (but didn't hurt) the same daughter who was reaching for our 1 year old granddaughter. We kept them separatedown again. This Monday was a normal day, everyone's normal routine. My husband came home from work and was winding down in his mandate. I was refilling the mini fridge, I had to readjust because the door wouldn't close so I was sitting on the floor in front of it fixingredients it. Out of nowhere completely unprovoked she attacked me. Clamped her teeth down into my check and lip. My husband couldn't pull her off of me because she would have ripped my lip off. The only thing he could do was get his hand in her mouth to get her to bite him instead and let me escape. I was basically cornered and had to jump over a couch and stumble over a folding table to run bleeding and screaming out of the room.he finally escaped too, with the palm of his hand ripped open. Called an ambulance and because my injuries were so severe I couldn't go to the closest hospital I had to be taken to a level 1 trauma hospital. Over 30 stitches in my lip and gums, 2 teeth knocked out, 2 broken. A large chunk bitten out of my lower cheek/chin Skin as well as muscle gone.that had no hope of being stitched. I will need a skin graft and potentially additional plastic surgery to fix the hole in hopes of my face ever looking normal again. My husband needed 14 stitches to close the wound in his hand. For 10 years she has been our baby, but after this incident we knew that we had to let her go, that she couldn't be trusted to not hurt someone even worse. Unfortunately in our area the aftermath dealing with the agencies just added to our misery. Animal control would not come get her and I was frightened to death to even think of driving her to the vet or animal control. On top of that animal control was threatening us with $150 a day in fines for every day webdidnt bribg her in to get tested.Ultimately we had to find a private agency and pay several hundred dollars for them to come sedate and remove her. She was euthanized on Wednesday. We didn't really get to say goodbye. It was a hard choice but definitely the right choice. We have grand babies in this house,I thank God it was husband and I that got injured and not one of them or a neighbor or the mail man or anyone else. We loved her so very much these past 10 years. I know she went peacefully and is no longer in pain or stress.we still love her, may she rest in peace. My wishes for peace for all of you, *sorry for rambling,still on lots of painkillers,

September 9, 2016

Thank you for sharing your story. I am struggling with what to do. Last july we adopted a POM mix from a shelter. She had some aggressive tendencies, but over time she appeared to be better. She would respond well to me and listen to the commands no bite. She is now two and with in the last two weeks she has bitten my husband on his lip and me on my face twice with the second time require multiple stitches, she just missed my eye. All three episodes it appeared the attack was unprovoked, we were petting her. My husband is now afraid of her being alone with me and we are all walking on eggshells. Truth is we don't know what her formative years were like. The reality is if she bit someone else I would have no hesitation to put her down. I realize I have stop making excuses even though it is breaking my heart. We will most likely have to euthanize her so that she does not hurt anyone else.

September 1, 2016

Thankyou. I'm on the way in an hour to euthanase my dog. She's dog aggressive and we can't walk her for fear we may see another dog. Recently her behaviour has changed again and a couple of days ago she bit my daughter. Didn't break skin but made a deep mark. I can't risk it but I'm devastated. She's so loving and perfect 90% of the time then just changes. Trying to build up the courage for this morning.

Cathy Brooks
August 31, 2016

My 11 year old poodle just nearly took off my wedding ring and sadly my finger with it. We ere laying in bed watching TV for 2 hours when I reached over just to rub him.I was half asleep. He has lost his sight in the darkness, But he has always been mean to everyone. I'm sick of his aggressive behavior.

August 24, 2016

Sadly a few weeks ago my partner and I had to make the hardest decision either of us have had to make in our lives so far, the decision to put our beautiful, charming, loving baby to sleep. Our two year old Cocker Spaniel was the greatest blessing. Anyone who encountered Bailey seemed to fall in love with him. You just couldn't help but melt when he approached you with such love and excitement. With him there was never a dull moment, never a day I didn't look forward to. Never a moment I spent with him where I would rather be anywhere else. Having wanted a Cocker Spaniel for a very long time we had both done our research and had heard about cocker rage but having read about its diminished prevalence, with some experts even disputing its existence at all, we had no apprehension as we had sourced what we believed to be reputable Cocker breeders. As a puppy Bailey was a complete joy. He was easy to train and was obedient the majority of the time with the exception of his discovery of a sock or a tea towel when he became full of mischief which we both found endearing. We first noticed signs of aggression when he was just 6 months old at first it presented itself as food aggression which we consulted a trainer for but our methods didn't seem to be working and after seeking advice and reading articles came to the conclusion that we should really be no where near him whilst he was eating his food anyway. The situation later progressed and he bit my partner on several occasions, it was then we decided to get Bailey neutered. Weeks would pass and we would have no episodes of aggression. Each time something out of the blue would happen we would always find an excuse for it. We then consulted with a second trainer to no avail. And after an episode which resulted in me making a reluctant visit to A and E. We spoke with our vet who said he had no other advice than to get Bailey put to sleep. This was not an option we were willing to accept at the time therefore we decided to get another vets opinion it was then when he was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. The vet at the time said this may well be a contributing factor but does not justify his behaviour. We clung to this excuse it gave us hope that with the pain relief his behaviour would change. Unfortunately it didn't. We then consulted with a third trainer who took Bailey twice a week for 2 full days. There would be long stretches where we would have no episodes we had no fear and then boom an unpredictable attack would occur. We were always so cautious on scenarios to avoid. However as these attacks become more sporadic and much more frequent we ran out of excuses for Bailey. I could deal with the pain of my bites and bruises but I could never deal with the guilt I would feel if Bailey injured another person especially a child. The decision was impossible. To take away the life from a soul who had so much zest for it. Such a young life. But in the end we both felt we had no other decision to make. Bailey always gave me so much more than I ever gave him. I am completely lost without him.  Each morning I wake up and I remember that he's gone and the pain of not having him around hits me all over again. I wish things could have been different and I am in forever doubt if we made the right decision. I am absolutely petrified to ever get another dog. Not just because I'm scared that they won't have the same bond that I did with Bailey but because I'm scared that I might be the reason for Baileys Rage. I would never want to waste another life. I do believe that everything happens for a reason and every event serves a purpose but I'm really struggling to find any meaning to this.

Phyllis DeGioia
August 16, 2016

Hi Tammy, 18 is not a trivial number of bites, and being rehomed would only increase his stress. Dodger was never abused in his 5 years at my house either. I am not surprised that you are having anxiety about this, but I hope your talk with the veterinarian proves useful to you, as perhaps some medication can help. Medication can be a good tool, particularly when paired with some behavior modification. I wish you luck and peace.  Let us know what the veterinarian says, okay?

August 16, 2016

I just put down my baby today due to increasing aggression that even training didn't help. I no longer fear he will turn on my children or pets and I know my baby is at peace. I hope your article helps others struggling with this difficult decision.

Michelle P
August 16, 2016

Thank you for sharing what I would otherwise have thought were just my feelings about my aggressive dog Jack and my decision to euthanize him.  One of the vet techs commented how sad it was to have him put down.  I answered that his death may make it possible for others to live.  When coming to pick up my other dog, and learning that he had 5 puncture wounds, 4 drains, multiple stapled incisions, I knew that I had made the correct choice for my family, so did the veterinarian office. To Jack, the dog I euthanized, I love you and I hope you accept my failure to keep a happy home with you as part of it.  I love you like the dog who is still alive.  Please forgive me.  You will always be a part of me..

August 15, 2016

I am so so thankful for all you heart felt writing. I have read every single daughter and i found a shih tau running thru the streets of an abandoned warehouse district in the middle of winter. Took him home, tried desperately to find his humans and never did. Fattened him up and vetted him. had him fixed and chipped and up to date on shots. Understanding he has issues and now understanding why he was just dropped off and abandoned himself (poor poor lil guy) I have worked desperately to help this fella. We love him, feed, walk,train, groom. train and love and play and sleep with this lil fluff bundle......but, he on a dime is aggressive without warning and seems to be getting worse instead of better. I have another rescue "bigger" dog they are wonderful together all the time, seems ever since our 3rd dog had to be put down cause of oral cancer (at 8 years old :( ) he seems to be getting worse. I have been working with a behavior specialist for advise on what to do next. I do not have the financial means to employee a trainer to teach me how to fix him. But we are now at 18 bites..... Yes 18 people he has bitten, myself being the worse, I needed medication due to the severity of the wounds he left. he tends to bite when people enter my home or yard. I do not always know when someone is going to walk through my door with one of our kids, it is a busy home. I am afraid to rehome him because I am afraid he will be abused, which has NEVER happen here at my house. I am in love with him and I do have an appointment to see the vet to have him put down. But as you can see I am having major anxiety about this decision and am hoping the vet can offer some other suggestion, as in take out his teeth, medicate or reassure this is by far the best decision to be made.  if you have any words to help me please do thanks

August 13, 2016

I went with great anticipation to meet my first grandchild a beautiful, amazing one week old when I arrived.  My son and his girlfriend had an aussie healer, was a lot bigger than any I'd ever seen so I think there was a mix in there.  They got him as a puppy about 4 years ago.  His name was Nugget.  They loved him so much and babied him as he was their baby.  We don't live close to each other so my first meeting with Nugget was when they came to visit me for Christmas when he was about 1.  He had jumped on my bed in the morning, licked me in the face and that was my greeting.  Later that day my son and his girlfriend went sight seeing.  I was in charge of Nugget.  Put on his leash to take him outside, he was prancing around the yard having a grand ol time, seemed like my pal. When we came in the house I went to remove his leash and he attacked me pushing me backwards and biting many times, tore open my finger so badly I needed stitches but I didn't want to do that as I knew it would cause questions and problems for them. I butterflied myself.  I went to visit about a year ago and this one may be my fault, Nugget had something in his mouth that was foreign it was instinctual for me to grab it so he would not eat something that would harm him (I've owned many dogs), another attack, this one not as bad.  In the meantime I had seen him jump up and bite a man they knew, had heard of many people he had bit but not really broken the skin.  The first attack was devastating to me.  It was the first time since I was a child that I had feared a dog and felt extremely victimized, not to mention so confused.  I think we are all a little apprehensive with a strange dog and could expect a bite, it's different when you know the dog and it's in your home.  Coming back to my granddaughter.  I arrived to see that they would not bring her out into the living space, kept her only in the bedroom and I knew it was due to Nugget.  Warning bells were going off all over in me. His girlfriends father came by and Nugget lunged and bit him when I shook his hand.  So I was heading towards the bedroom as I had so many times over the past week to feed my granddaughter.  Nugget was laying in the hallway, he had been there before when I passed.  He started viciously attacking my feet, bit me over 9 times, the last couple of times my sons girlfriend had his collar and was yelling no.  He ripped open my leg a little to the right and above my achilles tendon.  I knew I needed stitches and was traumatized horribly.  My son got home, gave me stitches at home it took 4 and there wasn't a lot to attach to as the flesh on the other side was so torn, once again so as to not cause trouble.  They wanted alone time to talk about this, so I sat outside for hours.  I came back in to realize that my son had gone and the decision to euthanize had been made.  My heart was torn out for him for I know that was his best friend and he was going through a whole lot of pain.  It became my fault in their eyes.  I could feel the tension building. I had two more weeks to stay and visit with my beautiful grandchild but I was told to get out now out of the blue one night after they started an argument.  Not indicative of the relationship my son and I have at all.  The get out was immediate.  I didn't get to kiss my granddaughter before I left and even though they say it was a different matter I know it had to do with Nugget.  While I was still there I had to go to the er and lie because the wound was horribly infected.  They didn't even want to do that.  I would watch this beautiful bundle of joy while both of them were gone post Nugget and then when they got home his girlfriend would be with her newborn crying over Nugget.  This I could not understand.  What was supposed to be a beautiful time turned into a nightmare.  One where words were spoken that won't heal anytime soon and I won't heal anytime soon;I'm scarred forever both physically and mentally.  The only thing that gives me peace is knowing my grandchild won't be harmed.  I love all things in nature and never kill anything (spiders;I admit), go out of my way to save all creatures.  There is no doubt in my mind that there was no other choice and I never thought I would find myself saying that.  I know this is a jumbled story I'm torn up inside and can't seem to write properly.  I've only been home a couple of weeks and the pain is horrible.  My relationship with my son has changed drastically and I'm afraid his girlfriend will never let me see that beautiful child again.  I'm in shock..

August 13, 2016

Advocating for euthanizing dogs with mental health problems incase they attack someone.....are you now going to advocate euthanizing humans with mental health issues next?.

 August 12, 2016

So thankful for this article. 23 days ago I rescued a just turned year old yellow lab from a bad home environment, I knew he had aggressive tendencies but didn't know how bad they were until he attacked my father unprovoked. We euthanized him today and my heart broke watching a sweet looking oversized puppy take his last breath. Working at a vet hospital, I knew it was the right decision from a professional standpoint, however I really needed to hear from an owner's perspective to realize that the feelings I am having are perfectly normal and that my decision was truly justified. I tell myself that there are so many amazing dogs that need homes, and aggressive and dangerous dogs aren't the ones deserving of families. You can't save them all..

Phyllis DeGioia
 August 12, 2016

Cat, Dodger could hear any kind of food package or the refrigerator door being opened from a floor away, even though he was not allowed any people food. He always turned his head towards me when I talked to him, so his hearing was fine. I am not advocating euthanizing a dog for any level of aggression: I advocate it only when other means have not changed the dog's aggressive behavior, and the dog is likely to cause injury. In the litigious U.S., that's an enormous legal liability. We have far more puppy mills in the U.S. than in UK, which pop out numerous dogs with poor temperaments. The kind of fear and anxiety that can be helped by training was not Dodger's problem. The trainer I used was mentored in aggression by Dr. Patricia McConnell, a nationally known animal behaviorist. In the end, the staff felt I did the right thing. So did my veterinary clinic. The veterinarian who euthanized him that morning is a friend of mine, and she felt I did the right thing. Dr. Oursler consulted veterinary behaviorists, as we know many because we work at the Veterinary Information Network. There is a small population of dogs that cannot be helped. Some of our commenters have spent years and literally thousands of dollars trying to lessen their dog's aggression, all to no avail. Also, when someone has never seen the dog in question in person, how can they possibly be "sure" that the fear could have been dealt with by training? That's the equivalent of saying that all mentally ill people can be helped by behavior modification alone. Certainly, some can be helped using only that treatment, but some of them will require far more, and for some it will never be enough..

August 11, 2016

I'd like to add, further to my previous comment (which hasn't appeared yet and the 'moderator' may not post it as it was not a comment that went along with the advocating of euthanizing dogs for aggression unless it was a 1000% last resort after other ways had been implemented to deal with any behavioural 'issues') that it's imperative that people choose pets that are suitable for their lifestyles and homes.  For example, I noticed that one person on this thread (I thin her name is Amy) wrote about her current dog, a flat coated retriever, whose behaviour has, apparently, become concerning.  Amy stated that she lives in a small city, in close quarters with other neighbors (who are about 10ft away), which makes me think that a flat coated retriever would not be an 'ideal' dog for such an environment.  This is what one website says of that breed:  "Although the Flat-Coated Retriever is fairly calm indoors, he's not suited to apartment life. He retains his hunting skills and should live in an environment where his talents can be used--or at least one that gives him the opportunity to run and swim. Expect to give him a couple of 45-minute walks, runs, or other activity daily to satisfy his exercise needs. If you're doing a good job, he'll look well conditioned and lean. Afterward, he'll enjoy relaxing with you in your home. He prefers to be with his people whenever possible." (from  If people choose dogs with finding out first whether the breed is suitable for their lifestyles and homes then perhaps they only have themselves to blame if the dog then displays 'behavioural' issues.  Selecting a potential pet because it's cute, or perhaps because it had a bad start in life, etc, is not enough - potential dog owners need to do their  research and find out whether a dog is right for them and their lifestyle, and whether THEY (the potential owner) is the right person (or people) to give that dog what it needs for it to have a happy, healthy, sane life. Too many people seem to choose dogs based on their looks, even whether a breed is in 'fashion' at the time (i.e. French Bulldogs seem to be very popular here in England at the moment), or because they feel sorry for them if they've come from a previous bad situation, etc.  .

August 11, 2016

You said you were having aggression issues with Dodger about 3 months before the incident where he became aggressive and you fell down the stairs.  You also said he was 9 years old.  Isn't it possible that he may have developed hearing problems and, as a result, become easily startled, i.e. when you said he bit you after you petted him on his back?  Apparently one of the medical issues English Setters can be prone to is deafness.  If that was the case with Dodger then I doubt that he was aggressive in himself but because he couldn't hear well anymore and could be easily startled if approached from the wrong angle, etc.  Also, you mentioned a veterinarian's experience of havung a dog who had been kicked by its former owner and seemed to have developed (not surprisingly) a wariness of feet, and that it had bitten her son's foot one time so the vet ended up having the dog euthanized.  Again, that did not necessarily mean that the dog was inherently aggressive but that, due to apparent abuse by its former owner, it had developed, rightly, a fear of  being hurt in the same way again, i.e. by kicking.  That was not the dog's fault but the former owner's fault and  I am sure that fear could have been dealt with by training, etc.  No doubt some animals are more aggressive than others, just as some humans are, but I am not sure that advocating euthanization for every (what some may  perceive as) 'problem' dog is the answer and I am certain that most dogs can be trained to be more calm and less dominant, for example, and no doubt without the need for medication (the use of which seems to be far more prevalent in America that here in Europe, for example).  Training takes patience, persistence and commitment and a dog owner cannot, and should not, expect miracles overnight.  Certainly though, pushing for people to have their 'aggressive' dogs euthanized is not right or fair and the dog should be given every chance to be trained and rehabilitated and euthanization should only ever be a total last resort..

August 4, 2016

As I read this thread I'm so overwhelmed with sadness, I'm a 30 guy and crying like a baby, my wife and I have made the decision to put down our Deaf Dogo Ben. We rescued him 3 and a half years ago and at first him and my little girl dog were great. Since we thought he was dog friendly a year later he attacked another male dog in front of our house and he didn't have his collar on or electro collar. We paid for the other dogs injurys. We never let him back out without his collar after that but again another year after he got out of the yard and hurt another dog this time it was 3,500$ so I put up another fence and everything he been better. He just recently growled and then knocked my 2 year old son down, we took him to a trainer and spent more money trying to get him better. Present day, he still stalks my son around the house ( I don't let him) I take him for nap time soon as I see the switch. This is quiet possibly the hardest/worst decision I have ever had to make. I love Ben he's my best friend but somethings just not right with him....... I'm not sure why I wrote this just felt like I needed to get it off my brain. Thanks.

August 2, 2016

We put down our rescue Springer spaniel Moe three days ago. He was given up because he nipped a child who was bothering him. We do not have children so our home was approved for his adoption. Moe proved to be an anxious dog, always on alert and prone to jumping and barking at the window when people walked past. Walks were tough; if a loud truck, dog, cat, or cyclist went by, Moe would bark and strain at the leash. We consulted a trainer, took reactive dog classes and even put Moe on fluoxetine (Prozac). Moe was a cuddle bug and goofball, but if you tried to clean his ears or corner him, he would snap at you. My husband and I could handle this, but we were upset when he nipped two people who tried to pet him and bit our neighbor on the hip when she walked up to talk to us. What really scared me was his behavior this past Thursday when he somehow opened our back door and cornered our exterminator, biting him on the hip. Both the exterminator and I were shaken by his sudden, aggressive behavior. I knew that we could no longer keep Moe and felt it would irresponsible to try to re-home him. After consulting our trainer, we decided to put him down. We were there with him when he passed after spending the day walking in the woods, swimming, and eating cheeseburgers. I found this website the night we put Moe down and it has reassured me, helping me sleep after shedding a few tears. Thank you.

July 31, 2016

I've made the heartbreaking decision to have my aggressive dog, Bear, put to sleep. It's happening tomorrow morning, August 1, 2016, at 10:5am. She's bitten both my sons, and my husband, multiple times in her 3 years of life, but I've been in too much of denial to accept that there's a problem. She's always been so loving and wonderful to me. It took her biting my 8 year old son, and leaving 11 puncture marks on his little arm, to make me admit that I have an aggressive dog. And then I was faced with the difficult task of figuring out whether she could be rehomed, and rehabilitated. I made the euthanasia appt and spent this past weekend loving on bear, and thinking, and I came to a decision. I cannot, with a clear conscience, rehome her and risk her biting and possibly maiming or killing someone child. I love my dog. And im going to miss her dearly. However, I know this is probably the best decision for my aggressive dog.

July 31, 2016

I'm so glad to find this today. Yesterday, we had to euthanize our dog Mitzie. She was a lab-mix, almost six and we've had her since she was a puppy. We too had dealt with aggression over the years, and did everything we could to fix the behavior. Even as a pup she would lunge at every person, car or dog when going on a walk. When my husband or son sneezed she would try to attack them. If she was ever bumped while sleeping she would attack us, and she was banned from the bedroom because she slept on the floor next to the bed and she attacked my husband when he got out of bed. Yesterday she did it again but this time she didn't stop until he jumped on the bed scared as hell. A grown man. It was scary to see the dog we love turn on us. I went to the vet and asked them what I should do, even though I knew what she would say. I had to take her, and I had to tell our kids. It was horrible, and I feel so much guilt that I couldn't "fix" her. I also feel skiddish still because I was always walking on eggshells around her, standing in front of her and my son when he sneezed, etc. I'm exhausted, but in a way relieved that I (we) don't have to live that way anymore. I'm glad I have a veterinarian that doesn't judge. And when I was lying on the floor after they gave her the first injection, one of the staff members came in and got on the floor with me. I am numb, but I know this is what we had to do for our family. I keep playing the attack yesterday in my head, and I think it was like she had two personalities. We loved her so much, and I know some people will not understand, but I'm thankful that there are those that do.

July 30, 2016

I am relieved to read so many comments and now know that I am not alone. My beloved Petey was found running scared on a major highway three years ago. Out of the kindness of his heart, my husband pulled over allowed him to jump in the car and brought him home. Scared, shaking and very very quiet Petey joined our other dog Oreo and became part of the family. He is a pit mixed with dalmatian and is very very small. Petey;s first bite came a few months after we found him. It was a very understanding friend who had food and he nipped. The second bite came because he was startled. The third bite came when he was "protecting my house"  against the poor delivery man. Surprisingly through all of this, Petey was not taken from me and like many we continued to make excuses. I tried so desperately to muzzle him, lock him up when people came over without success. He would be great one moment and then strange the next. Given the breed, the vet feels that he was a bait dog living in deplorable conditions and most likely was psychologically damaged from the abuse. The straw that broke the camels back was when he lunged and my daughters 15 yer old friend and bit her in the face. Shockingly they are not suing and have been incredibly patient and understanding. She did get stitches but thank God it is small. We now know.....Petey is scheduled to be euthanized next week. It is an agonizing decision, but as I write this I take comfort in knowing  have done all that is possible for him. His anxiety is off the charts and a friend said it best., "with his anxiety and aggression, he is living a tortured life". As painful as it is for me to have come to this decision, I know it is best for my family and all who enter my home. He is young, only 4, but 8-10 more years or progressive aggression leaves me wondering what next. I don't want another human to be hurt by him. Petey touched my heart like no other animal ever has. He will forever be etched in my mind, but it is time he goes in peace knowing we loved him. Someday Petey I will meet you over the bridge, and I hope where you are going there is peace, warmth, love and you will never suffer again. I love you buddy.....

Dayna Williamson
July 22, 2016

We rescue older scotties or ones that have issues. 13 in the last 13 years. Only one have we had to put down due to aggression. I excused the first bite figuring I may have hurt him. The second occurred when we were sitting and I was just rubbing the top of his head. Both were severe enough to have him quaranteened. After the second I called the rescue bawling saying I could not keep him. They thought I wanted to send him back and said they would not be able to put him with another family. I said with all the dogs who have come into our home I had had the talk with Buster that this was his forever home. Just wanted them to know my decision and they whole heartedly agreed that he had a crossed wire somewhere. He is here in the yard basking in the lilies with 8 of his siblings. Always to be his home. I miss him as I miss all my babies and like you I remember his smiles and kisses and cuddling rather than the aggression. That has faded.

July 22, 2016

I am so glad that you have healed! As a volunteer for a rescue, I have spent significant time and energy figuring out how to break the news that based on what I am being told, a dog doesn't need a new home, he needs a rescue from his fears and life. To everyone in the comment section who has recently, or is planning their dogs' goodbye parties...I'm so sorry. You're making a tough call and I am sure it is the right one. While I have been quite lucky so far, in my personal and rescue dogs, many of my friends have not, and many of the people I advise through my rescue work are not. Thank you for trying behavior modification, medication, and then making the kinder harder choice, to let him go. My opinion is that death is not the worst thing that can happen to an anxious and dangerous dog, in fact, going to sleep peacefully is among the better potential ends for such an animal.

Marilyn Killian
July 21, 2016

Beautifully written. As a foster mom of many dogs, puppies, kittens and cats, your insight is one I share. Whenever I get started on my "but some dogs will never ...", I get a strong reaction, as if I don't know what I'm talking about, or why am I fostering if I feel this way. So, I just keep my opinion to myself and figure I'm being selfish somehow. I'm fostering an abused pit/lab/Boston terrier right now who can be unpredictable. In the right family, he'll be a wonderful boy. I'm glad the decision isn't up to me.

July 21, 2016

We rescued a toy American Eskimo/Pomeranian mix when someone tossed him out of a car on the highway.  At first he would come to us, he was filthy, matted and scared. He finally fell asleep in a neighbors house where we went to see him and when my husband picked him up all he did was put his head on his shoulder and took a deep breath.  We took him to the groomer, the vet to get all his shots, fixed and for the first year or so he was a very polite loving dog, but after that he started with hiding under the bed and growling anytime my son would come into the room and onto my bed. Its been a little over four years and his aggressive behavior has escalated.  He has bitten my husband 3 times and my son twice.  Very unpredictable.  He will jump on my lap and let me pet him, and if I just move my hand he will snap at me.  I am caught between a rock and a hard place.  We are on the second anti-anxiety medication which seems to have taken a little of the edge off, but I am still afraid to pet him unless he initiates it by jumping to say hello.  The vet behaviorist doesn't think there is a chance for rehabilitating him, but my heart aches everytime I think of putting him down; I feel like I failed him.  Just looking at his little face makes my heart aches to think of him alone after he crosses over.  Help me with this... Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Pat Young
July 20, 2016

I would never fault someone for euthanizing and aggressive dog, especially where children are involved.  There is one other thing that may help with aggressive dogs - homeopathy.  I used to do Pomeranian rescue.  Once, I took in a badly abused Pom.  As the shelter lady handed the dog to me, he tried to bite me - she said he was just nervous and trying to protect her.  I got him into my car and thought I'd just sit there for a few minutes to help him settle down before putting him into his crate for travel.  At first, he let me pet him, then, out of the blue, he viciously attacked my hand!  I hoped maybe the situation would improve once he was home with me, but it didn't.  He could be next to me on the couch with me stroking him and suddenly, for NO reason, he would stiffen and attack me.  I talked with our local animal behaviorist.  She said that dogs that attack without provocation seldom can be helped, and that I could never safely place this dog in a new home.  As a last resort, I called my homeopathic veterinarian.  I told her that the animal behaviorist had recommended euthanizing the dog.  I also said that if homeopathy couldn't help the dog, he was going to the vet the next day.  She said that we could treat the dog homeopathically to get him over his anger at having been so badly abused.  After the first remedy, he acted like a totally normal dog for about one week, then reverted to his previous unpredictable behavior.  After the next remedy, it was like we'd thrown a switch in his brain.  He became very loving, cuddly and happy.  Never had another aggressive incident. I was amazed that the homeopathic remedy was so successful.  I placed him with a nurse that I worked with you always wanted a Pom.  She loved him to death and he loved her. He never tried to bite her or any of her friends.  Homeopathy helps the body heal itself.  Sometimes it can help these dogs overcome their problems.  It's worth a try.

July 20, 2016

You saved him. He was suffering in a way we will never understand. It was a kindness of the highest love. You loved him so much you took on a pain and grief that many will never understand. Our very first family dog was a beautiful Springer spaniel that our five year old son named Beethoven. Perfect puppy. Heeling at six months off leash. He was my sons shadow. Then just before he turned a year old it was like a switch was flipped. He became aggressive. No rhyme or reason to it. I am now a retired nurse but I saw the devastation of dog bites and denial of so many willing to put their already scarred child in harms way because the dog was....fill in the blank. I had him evaluated for every physical issue as well as a behaviorist. It was recommended he be released from his suffering. The diagnosis was Springer rage. No fix. I took 24 hours to decide and research. He was crated and kept safe. I opened his door to take him out and feed him and he attacked. I sat with him as he slipped away to peace. It's been 21 years. I mourn that dog every day but I gave him the gift of peace as did you. My home welcomed another Springer three years later. She was with us 14 years sweeter dog never born. I waited two more years before adding another springer to my home. Grieve. But take comfort in that you gave your sweet boy peace. You honored him. Namaste'.

July 20, 2016

Thank you. I yearn for the day I have the solace you describe in your final update.

July 19, 2016

I cannot imagine the emotional pain Phyllis had to go through. Such a heart wrenching decision with her much beloved dog's life. Sadly, she had exhausted all efforts and did everything she could to help Dodger. It saddens me. It also saddens me to hear or read about the 'bad' dogs. The ones who get bad raps such as the Pit Bulls, the rescues, the adoptive ones, the pure breeds, etc. It is true that some dogs are wired differently, or an unfortunate result of bad breeding, bad owners (in which is obviously not in the case that happened with Phyllis and the readers), bad training, bad environment, dogs who have a  predisposition to certain problems (ever hear of rage syndrome?) We do take chances when we adopt or buy a new friend. Some for the most part, work out perfectly well. Some start out that way and after time, an unknown trigger sets them off. It could be anything. You never know when something triggers a dog. Could be months or years down the road. We have to deal with the emotional ramifications and the legal stand point which varies from state to state. Getting a veterinarian involved is the best thing to do. They can evaluate, run medical tests, and above all, listen to the owners and hear for themselves what goes on with the dog. I had a conversation with a great vet who put in all into perspective. He said 'We domesticated the canine, yet we don't think about the fact that they are an animal from wild ancestors. It is their instinct to act upon something that may seem to be threatening and traumatic. Some dogs are just wired differently,  as in the case of fight or flight response. It goes to say that it is the same thing with us humans. We can try to change/fix the behavior but sometimes it just doesn't work for some people. It makes sense but it weighs heavily on those of us who are animal lovers when we have such a situation on hand with no resolve. Various rescue organizations get dogs and cats without knowing what happened to them in their past. Some work out well and some do not and end up going from one home to the next. Almost like children in foster situations. It ends up ruining some and then there are those who don't get ruined but it is always in the back of their minds of instability, possible mistrust, etc. or for some to act out later on. Being a retired veterinary professional, I've seen it all. We do understand and support the pet owner making these choices. When it becomes a life or death moment, bodily harm, harm to other pets, etc. We have to truly look within the behavior and/or medical aspect of the animal. It will always be a sad issue for us. Many owners keep trying and then blame themselves when all efforts have been exhausted. I cannot stress enough it is not their fault, Not even the dog/cat. It may be that they just could not acclimate in certain situations or pets get older, they become increasingly more sensitive to things that we all may not be aware of.' That all makes sense to me but it may not to the owners having to make a life ending decision. Animals can be very complex but we do take our chances with certain ones.  

July 18, 2016

I have a 7 year pit bull who is the love of my life. I am struggling with the decision to put him down. He attacked me and i have 3 bite wounds and required ER visit. I did grab him by his collar becuz I thought he was going to bite my niece and therefore I got bit.  He has been my best friend, sleeps with me every night, and I keep telling myself I provoked it. This is not the first time he has bit someone or shown aggression. I have 5 grandchildren ranging in age from 3 mo to 6 years. I would never live it down if something were to happen.I am crying my eyes out right now and my heart is hurting so bad. Don't know if I can do it?.

July 15, 2016

I'm calling the vet tomorrow to inquire about having my sweet Rosie, a medium sized terrier mix, put to sleep. My heart is broken. She started attacking my cocker spaniel several years ago. I've read books and articles, talked to my vet, taken her to a behaviorist for three sessions, and put her on Prozac. She gets better, until it happens again. She also doesn't like people, snarling and growling at them if they look at her too long. My spaniel has been injured a number of times, as have I in trying to break up the fight. I've made excuses for her, blamed myself. But I see now, after this latest attack for no apparent reason (maybe jealousy?), that she's just a dangerous, unpredictable dog that I love and who loves me. But I've finally decided after years of trying that I can't put my spaniel through this any more. There's something wrong with Rosie. I wish I could have fixed it. I tried my best for several years. I don't see what else I could do at this point. I love her and don't know how I will handle this. But it has to be done. My silly little Rosie, who curls up in my lap and lifts her leg for me to rub her tummy, has something wrong with her that I wasn't able to fix. I'm so sorry, my girl. I love you.

July 12, 2016

Two days ago my family suffered from the hardest decision we have ever had to make, putting our 7 year old lapsoapso Maltese down. We rescued him when he was a year old and gave him the best life we possibly could. He spent nights cuddled up in our beds and days playing in the yard or in the water at a nearby beach. After countless years of nipping and biting when reprimanded, he full out attacked me this passed week leaving three bite marks on my hand, leg and chest. There had been years worth of excuses but this time it was too much. But to put down a healthy, loving dog who was the first one to cuddle up in your lap while you were on the couch is a decision that is eating me and my mom alive. Was it the right choice? Had we exhausted all our options? We had tried trainers and medication and nothing could over come the alpha male in him. We miss him dearly and he has left our house quite and our other dog quite lonely. We are in search of another dog but the overwhelming guilt that I feel we are replacing him is hurting my heart. I believe time will heal our hearts but we will certainly never forget our Bailey boy. Thank you to all of those who shared their stories. Reading this blog has given both me and my mom a great sense of comfort in knowing we are not alone. My condolences to all those that are suffering from the same kind of broken heart that we are.

July 12, 2016

Dear Tanya, you really can't understand a situation or judge someone's choices unless its happening to you. Sometimes it's the best choice to euthanizing a dog. With my dog I tried training, did my research on his aggression, gave him lots of love and care. Nothing worked. I am sure if your dog latched on your leg (biting) attacking you, you would understand where I am coming from. I paid over $2,000 on training and it did not work. Training an aggressive dog is never a guarantee that it will work. Everyone comes here to share there stories and get comfort. Not to be judged. It's been one week since my best friend got his wings. I will forever miss my sweet pup.

July 12, 2016

First, all of the commenters are such good people...coming off of weeks of senseless killings in Orlando, Dallas etc. I am struck by the love here.  The rest of this is part our story...part a tribute to Rusty.  We adopted Rusty at 4 months from the local shelter.  He was cute as could be...big ears and adorable little face...  We thought by adopting a puppy we would be doing two good things - adopting a dog who needs a home and not bringing a dog into our home who would have issues from possible previous simple right?  But our little guy was fearful from the start (now we look back and see that was a problem...shaking terribly the day they brought him to our home) but how we loved him so.  He adored his Kong toys and loved going for a walk in our peaceful neighborhood.  He also loved other dogs...  The problem started with a bite to a young girl...we thought she startled him.  But then, well he bit all of us...culminating in my last trip to the ER with a face bite that will likely require some minor plastic surgery and a nasty scar for at least the next year.  In spite of all of this, we love our little buddy, and he was with us for four years. 99.95% of the time he was a great little dog.  He loved going for walks, sitting in his designated chair, rolling around on the rug, barking at the deer from the deck, making these adorable sneezing sounds when he was happy and greeting us with the best kisses and dog hugs in the world.  We will love him forever...  But Rusty also suffered from an anxiety that even the most loving home could not overcome...we blamed the shelter for waiting too long to adopt him out...and we think he also had some genetic issues.  He was mentally ill...and while we could chase his demons away for awhile...they came back and the issue worsened over the last six weeks.  Before that, he would shake with fear at thunderstorms and no one was really allowed in our house (we long ago stopped letting him out when guest would be over).  We hired a trainer.  We controlled his environment. We walked or ran with him every day for more than two miles for adequate exercise...We talked to the vet and two weeks ago (before the bite) we took him to the vet for a full review to rule out health causes.  Our little guy was fragile...and we wish more than anything else in the world that we could have helped him...but no.  Like a cancer, his mental illness and anxiety became too much...I am glad he bit me in the face and not my daughters or a neighbor/friend.  This past week, we had to make the traumatizing decision to put him to sleep...he was with loved ones and we know he did not suffer...but all of this does not erase the pain or our wish that he could be with us.  We love you are forever in our hearts and as much a part of our family today as the first day you joined us.  We will see on the Rainbow Bridge...enjoy being fear free and without anxiety...we can't wait to see you again...your loving family...RIP

July 11, 2016

Thank you for writing this. I am in the process of scheduling a euthanization for my dog & it is by far the hardest decision I've had to make. We adopted Bella about 3 yrs ago. She is aprox 4 yrs old, dingo/lab mix. She had 2 previous owners due to her high anxiety. Being that I work from home & love on 10 acres for her to run, I have provided her with an ideal living situation. I've worked with trainers on how to get her anxiety down. Although I still take precaution with her bc she still shows aggressive & dominant tendencies, she has certainly improved. However this Saturday, in a completely unprovoked situation at our home (outside to be exact) she attacked our friend. She came out of nowhere, jumped up & bit his upper arm (bicep) leaving some serious wounds. Had this been a child, or on someone's face, I do not think the victim would be so understanding & cooperative right now. After many years & replaying the incident in my head, I feel like I have no choice but to put my girl down. This breaks my heart as well as my husband & kids'. This is sadness for our entire family. I feel that I've failed as a dog owner, wondering what if something was different that day that could've been avoided so this wouldn't have happened. Unlike a situation where someone startles a dog or interferes in a dog fight or maybe gets too close when they're eating, this was a completely unprovoked situation that left us in shock & disbelief that it had happened. I thank you for sharing your story bc it helps me realize that there are others who have had to make the same decision with a pet they love.

July 11, 2016

After 6 1/2 years, we made the devastating decision to put our 100 pound Boxer/Bulldog mix Rasta down yesterday. I am already wracked with grief and guilt. 80% of the time, he was a sweet, loving boy who just wanted cuddles and chest scratches. The other 20%, he was unpredictable. Through it all, we made excuses for him--yes, he lunged and snapped at me, but he didn't break the skin. Yes, he bit the maintenance man, but he was just protecting his house. Yes, he attacked the dog trainer--we know better than to bring people into the house. Finally, after training failed to produce results (and the aforementioned attacking of the trainer), we put him on Prozac and isolated him (and ourselves) from the rest of the world. This went on for 3 worked for the most part. He bit my husband a couple of times and snapped at me countless times, and we never left the house...our social lives were put on hold indefinitely. But we did it because we loved him so much. This weekend, however, he nearly killed one of our chihuahuas, for the crime of walking by his food. I'm pregnant with our first child, and this was our last straw. I'm so consumed with grief at the moment that I can't seem to remember what a long time coming this has been. I'm so grateful to have found this article and this thread of comments with people who are going through the same thing.

July 9, 2016

As I sit here writing this my newly adopted flat-coated retriever mix is lying down sleeping peacefully. We've only had him for 6 weeks. It's 1am and I'm searching the internet for alternatives (or confirmation) for euthanizing this lovely dog that I adopted to complete our family. I had a flat-coated retriever mix for 17 yrs. She was my soulmate and died 3 yrs ago. Never an aggressive tendency. I have missed her terribly and have been looking for a new dog for a couple of years now. I found Gordon nearby and thought he looked like the perfect dog for me. My husband agreed and off I went to meet him. When I got there, he walked over and tucked his head beneath my arm to allow me to pet him. He leaned into me. Peaceful. I was hooked. He stayed there for  a long time and I was so happy. He seemed wonderful and I was still missing Traveler. We had him for 2 weeks and he slipped out of out gate and bit a runner. We treated him for an ear infection and swollen lymph nodes in his neck (painful) and met with a trainer to see what we could do. He began responding well to training and we had an animal behaviorist appt scheduled. Before the appt could come  up he heard our mail carrier putting mail in our box by our front door and ran from our house (must have hit the lever latched door enough to open it) and bit her. We were stunned and since we have kids. I began reaching out to numerous shelters and rescues and sanctuaries to try to place him elsewhere, but as I learned, none of them would take him with a bite history like his. The funny thing is 95% of the time he's so great. Great on a leash, great with other people and other dogs when walking him (even if they are barking at him) but his territorial protective tendencies are scary.  Almost everyone says that rehoming him should be completely off the table. I have to admit, after learning about this, I agree. It would be irresponsible and unsafe to pass this problem on even to someone who is well informed. So, I am left with more training or euthanasia. We live in a small city and have frequent visitors to our door and just outside our fence (front and back). Our neighbors are 10 ft away on either side. We are in close quarters. Our vet says she would put him down. I'm struggling mightily with this because of how sweet he is with our family. He has no warning signs. He just goes and bites-- no growling or anything. I am terrified for our neighbors and neighborhood kids. I feel that we just don't have the time to try behavior adjustments safely. This is such a shame. I think he deserves better than that but I cannot risk it. I will be putting him down (if or when) I can convince my husband). His 10 day quarantine is up on Friday and my vet said she can do it on Saturday. I really hate this. I will not be getting another dog. I no longer feel I can pick a dog that wouldn't be aggressive and I don't want to go through this again. I'm so sad. Grateful to read this story and the other comments. Hearing similar stories is comforting. I don't feel so alone in this.

Christine Morton
July 9, 2016

Yesterday, my beautiful 18 month old cockapoo, Alfie, was put to sleep. From a young pup he exhibited severe resource and territorial guarding.  I was bitten many times, and each time without warning.  In the end there was nowhere in my home that I, or my boys, felt safe.  It could be that I went to pick up a book, straighten a cushion, or inadvertently walked past some random object (one time a tomato stalk) which he had found.  I would suddenly find him launching himself at me and then left reeling when his teeth yet again made contact with my skin.  The final incident, a month ago, was when I went to sit down in the garden.  He came across to me and went for my foot.  As I tried to get away from him, he bit my forearm and leg. Each time, I tried to analyse what had happened.  On that last occasion, I concluded that Alfie had been keeping his eye on a small pile of weeds which were lying on the grass a yard away from my chair, and that that was the trigger for the attack. People told me that I was at fault.  I had not been dominant enough, I was not "alpha" enough. I should have smacked him when he first showed signs of aggression, etc... He was rehomed with a family friend 4 weeks ago.  This lady was unafraid of him.  She had kept 3 German shepherds in the past and worked in animal rescue.  I fervently hoped that it was me, and that somehow, with her, Alfie would have a new start and somehow be rewired. Sadly that wasn't to be, and on Wednesday he bit her arm, with no warning, and she fell back against a glass cabinet.  Her injuries could have been so much worse. With a heavy heart I accompanied Hilary to the vet yesterday.  Our beautiful Alfie was put to sleep.  The vet assured us that there was really no other responsible choice. It was so traumatic.  I didn't know I could shed so many tears, and the speed of his passing, when the injection was administered, was a huge shock to me. But throughout the procedure Alfie was held and loved and he showed no anxiety as he relaxed against me and drifted away. My head says that we did the right thing, but my heart is aching.

Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM
July 12, 2016

Dear Tanya, Thank you for sharing your concerns.  The comments have grown so much by now that it is difficult to get an accurate assessment of the myriad situations for these owners and dogs from reading 20 or so comments.  I've every one of the comments posted on this piece, and I can assure you many of these owners have tried all of the remedies you mention.  We were discussing this very topic among our editorial staff the other day, and the conclusion we reached was that every situation has its own "tipping point."  For a family with small children and a large, aggressive dog, for instance, that tipping point is likely to occur much earlier in the process than for a single adult or adult couple with a smaller dog and limited contact with outsiders.  Financial resources are likely to play a part as well.  I think the consistent theme I have seen throughout these comments is one of grief and guilt, and for that, everyone posting here has my compassion.

July 8 2016

I find it sad that after reading through 20 or so comments all I see are people saying "my dog bit" followed by "so I euthanized him/her".  No mention of seeking advice from a trainer or behaviorist, no attempts to *properly* manage their dog, no attempts whatsoever to try to learn so they have a better understanding of why their dog may be behaving that way and what they can do to help the situation.  Just "he bit, so I killed him".  The lack of willingness to try to help the dog is upsetting.

Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM
July 8, 2016

Three years ago, our friend and colleague Phyllis DeGioia wrote a story that left no eye dry among those of us on the VetzInsight editorial team.  As we read her tale and Dodger's, not one of us was unmoved -- and as a group mostly composed of experienced veterinary practitioners, we've largely seen it all.  What none of us expected was this -- a community formed over three years and 700 posts.  We knew Phyllis was telling an important story, but we had no idea how many of you would find this place to share your stories.  As the comments moderator for VetzInsight, I have posted almost all of these by hand, and I want you to know -- your stories are being read, you are being heard. It is both heart-wrenching to read the pain and guilt and uplifting to see so many loving pet owners take solace in each other's stories.  And, all too rarely in this internet world, there have been very few mean-spirited remarks.  I have flagged less than a handful of comments submitted to this article for violations.  Less than a handful -- out of 700.  That is its own blessing.  So, thank you all. Thank you for reading.  Thank you for sharing.  Thank you for your courage, generosity, and empathy.  And thank you so much to Phyllis for sharing her story and Dodger's.

July 6, 2016

Found this article immensely helpful. My parents have a nervous dog who is very scared of pretty much everything. She has always exhibited signs of fear aggression with any outsider, which we managed but she's always been so loving to the family members. Recently she needed to be spayed due to an infection, and has since turned on my mum on two separate occasions and now my dad twice too, in the past two days, and bitten them both. The decision has been made to take her to the vet in the morning to be euthanized. We are all completely devastated and are left wandering if we are doing the right thing, could more be done to bring back the dog she used to be, but the dog she used to be would never ever have attacked my mum. Reading this has helped me realize that we must do what needs to be done for her sake as well as ours. Doesn't make what we have to do in the morning any easier but gives me peace of mind that its not the wrong choice. Thank you.

Jennifer McMahon
July 6, 2016

We are having our 6 year old Anatonlian shepherd euthanized this afternoon and I've been crying for 2 days.  I've been bitten 3 times, my husband once, there has been lots of snarling and aggressive behavior and snapping as well as nipping 3 people in the backsides.  Living with Major has been like living in an abusive relationship..most of the time it's been great but every now and then you get growled and snapped at and then you get bitten and you wonder how it was your fault. I always excused his behavior as something I had done to provoke it and I tried to adjust my behavior to avoid conflict but invariably it would happen again, sometimes just for rubbing his belly...I'm so sad and cannot stop crying and this day is only going to get more difficult. I realized loving the big dog, who intimidates people has to be less important than the safety of myself, my family and my friends. Anyone who knows us, knows we love animals, we've always had dogs, multiple cats, chickens and horses and the price for loving them is usually grief but I need to remember my hiking buddy and all the good times we had.

July 5, 2016

Today was the day I put my beautiful boy buddy to sleep. After he attacked our neighbor (who he knew)I then realized that his aggression and anxiety was not getting any better. especially because this was his 13th time biting someone including me. I always made excuses for him on why he would bite. The truth is I was too selfish to realize that its not healthy for your dog to randomly attack people including myself even if he was a sweetheart 90% of the time.I cant stop crying looking at his dog bed, holding his favorite toys. I miss him so much. He was my best friend. I cant sleep, I am going crazy just thinking about everything over and over again. yesterday I took him on a nice long last walk by the lake, and fed him a big steak. he loved it. He was 5 years old. I rescued him when he was 6 months old. I wish this was all a dream. He was still so young and full of life. I feel really guilty because he was healthy and young. But I have to keep telling myself that he was mentally not heathy. I am so thankful for this blog and all the comments. I have spent so many hours on this blog in the past 4 days, and will continue to visit this blog to read everyone story's and thoughts. It really helps thank you everyone.

July 4, 2016

Tomorrow is the day my best friend is going to be euthanized. I am so upset to think that things had to come to this. Saturday he bit the neighbor, who he knows really well. This was his 13 time biting someone. He's a sweetheart one second then aggressive the next. He has bitten me before. Last year he latched on to my leg while growling and moving his head back and fourth. It was such a heartbreaking 4 seconds of my life. To think my best friend who I loved for and cared for since I rescued him at 6 month's old would hurt me. Sometimes loving a dog is not enough to fix there issues or aggression. With training and lots of love..I thought he would get better. He's 5 years old now. With each year that passes he is getting more aggressive more often. My other dog bear who loves everything and everyone is constantly walking on egg shells because buddy is so aggressive at times he will attack bear for no reason at all. Most of the time they get along and play but sometimes randomly buddy will snap. He's unpredictable which is the scary part. I cant stop crying. I am so upset. I feel like time is just a ticking time bomb. just waiting for tomorrow knowing my best friend will no longer be by my side. Today I will take him for his last adventure exploring through the woods. Then I will feed him this big steak I cooked for him. Thank you for writing this sharing your story and experience. Also thank you to everyone who wrote comments. Reading everything really helped me and made me realize I am not alone in this situation.

Jennifer Allen
July 3, 2016

My 70#, 7 month old mastiff mix is currently in quarantine for biting my face due to food aggression.  I have made them decision to euthanize him and have him cremated. I have been judged for not giving him a second chance. I wish people understood the fear and guilt I have. I would never give up on a dog or any animal but I cannot bear the thought of him attacking someone else, being rehomed, and possibly abused, trained to fight, or be abandoned. Your story has given me some solace in knowing I'm not the only one.

July 1, 2016

Thank you so much for your courage in sharing your experience. My husband and I made the painful decision to euthanize our young dog Jake yesterday. He was an adolescent shepherd and sweet as anything. He was goofy and silly and everything a dog should be. Until he attacked our other dog a month ago he had never so much as growled at anyone or anything. But then two weeks ago my cousin stopped by and I had to body block Jake to stop him from attacking. We worked with him and spoke with our vet, we are experienced owners. But over the last two days it is like someone flipped a switch and our sweet lovey boy became incredibly unpredictable and dangerous. He charged total strangers and friends alike. We have a young son and just simply can't take the chance that he could hurt him or anyone else. We agonized for hours about perhaps surrendering him to a behaviorist rescue and giving him a chance but in the end we knew that it would only make it their problem and prolong his suffering. If he can't tolerate anyone but me and my husband around him how could we ever imagine he would be ok with a new person or trainer? I can't stop the tears and we are as a family devastated. Reading your account though makes me realize how often this sort of thing occurs and that I am not alone in this. Thank you for sharing.

July 30, 2016

Thank you so much for this article and all the stories, it has helped my husband and I tremendously in coming to the ultimate decision that we know we need to make.  We have a young family, two girls, 3 and 5 and one furry daughter - Nala - a husky hound with beautiful blue eyes, who we adopted from a shelter about 2 and a half years ago.  She came to us very ill and scared to death of anything and everything - we thought this was normal considering her situation and worked with her through her illnesses and believed that some of the behavior issues she was having were related.  She growled at people who came to the house or even walked by the house and she nipped at peoples shoes sometimes and also lunged at children on a few occasions, but did not make contact until last Halloween when she lunged at a little girls face who was over for a party at our house, totally unprovoked (she was just sitting on the couch), and she made a small mark on her cheek - it was the first time she had left a mark and we were scared, the little girl was frightened and we felt horrible!  We contacted a behavior specialist and learned many techniques to work with Nala - things to look for that might suggest she is uncomfortable and things to do when people came over - like telling people not to look at her or try to pet her, but it was something we had to police 24/7 and it felt like we were really doing things to avoid the issue, not actually solving her problems, and with little kids and kids around often its been tough.  Its gotten to the point where people pretty much just stay away.  And this is not what we want for the rest of our daughters youth - we want them to be able to play here with their friends, without fear of what the dog could do.  We adopted a dog to be social with us, not to keep her away from our family.  Well last Sunday everything changed, she was separated from the kids and the cousins that were over just to be on the safe side (which is what we do at this point) but she got out.  Nala laid on the floor and I saw her and thought - hmm she got out but she seems fine, she's on the floor chewing her bone happy as can be, then a minute later I heard a scream from my nephew and I came in and there was blood everywhere, coming from his face!  Luckily it was mostly from a nose bleed but there were small bite marks on each end of his nose, and we realized that even if she doesn't mean to harm, she can and its not getting better.  It was the most traumatizing thing I have seen and made us realize that we have a ticking time bomb on our hands.  Yes, we love her, she loves our family, but we live in fear of what she can do to others - especially children.  The shelters we have called don't want her and we fear even rehoming her would be irresponsible (in the unlikely chance it could even happen)  This decision is the worst ever, I am not sure how we are going to get past this, but reading about everyone else that has gone through similar things it has helped more than you can know.  We believe this is the right decision for us and for Nala, as much as it breaks my heart.

June 30, 2016

I had to put my Australian Cattle dog mix to sleep on June 27, 2016 after she bit my dad. He required 12 stitches, glue, sutures and his hand was very swollen. She developed aggression around age 3 and she was 6.5 years old when she was put down. She had also bitten me and couple of others in the last few years although to a lesser degree. Like many of the comments I have read on hear I have literally tried everything to make it work. I am so sad and broken-hearted and feel tremendous guilt. It was very helpful to read the stories and comments last night to know I am not alone.

Phyllis DeGioia
June 30, 2016

Dear Fran, We're all so sorry for your loss and grief. Let me assure you that Maddie's biting is not your fault. Your reaction time has nothing to do with her behavior; had you been fast enough that she didn't bite the maintenance man, it would not have changed her intent to do so. Her behavior has changed in the past few weeks, and your veterinarian found no physical cause.  Remember what Dr. Gaspar says: ""There are some dogs who are mentally ill, either due to genetics, trauma or their development...I appreciate the effort that people put into understanding them, but some of these dogs just never are normal. Escalating behavior is not good in any species." From where I stand, rather than letting down your dog you went above and beyond in taking care of Maddie in all respects and I think you are an excellent pet owner. Please don't decide about changing your status as a potential foster parent right now in the middle of this extremely emotional time. Your ability to work through very difficult situations will be your legacy.  Once you work through this grief, life will be different. Never quite the same, but better. Today you are giving your beloved dog peace and a release from anxiety. That is a gift, a kindness. I wish you peace.

June 30, 2016

I recently have been in your shoes. Mine was a pup from a litter I had. She first showed a very sharp nasty temperment at 8 weeks. She attacked my other dogs who were all related to her. Snapped and nipped me a few times. Unlike you, my vet refused to euthanize her even though she snapped at him. After much searching I finally found one to euthanize her. I guess I was lucky since I knew she would go for my throat if given a chance. My household is much more relaxed, my other dogs aren't afraid anymore and I'm not walking on eggshells. You did the right thing as did I.

June 30, 2016

Thank you for writing this article.  I am waiting for the vet's office to open this morning so I can make an appointment to put Pablo down.  He is a three year old chihuahua rescue we adopted 18 months ago.  He was picked up as a stray when he was less than a year old and brought north by a rescue league.  Someone adopted him and returned him after 5 months (even with training) because he was "too nippy".  That was a complete lie and we are the family that now has to make the difficult decision to euthanize our dog.  Pablo suffers terribly from anxiety and we thought he just needed love and a new home.  He has bitten every family member at some point.  The worse bight was last November he bit my 16 year old daughter's face for no reason.  She had a deep laceration above her lip that required immediate attention in the ER.  She has a scar hopefully it will fade.  We were advised to euthanize Pablo by our vet or try an animal behaviorist an hour away (very expensive).  Our hearts took over and we asked the vet to try Prozac.  The medication helped some what he wasn't nearly as anxious but still barked incessantly at visitors and strangers and of course other dogs.  We were in the process of looking for a trainer when lo and behold he did again.  Completely unprovoked the same daughter was petting our cat.  Pablo came into the room and when she offered to pet him he went for her face.  She didn't require medical attention but she was once again traumatized.  That was it for me another 10 day quarantine and report to animal control.  I was absolutely going to euthanize him.  That 10 day waiting period is the worse part because our hearts once again took over.  We decided to pursue a trainer that specializes in aggression.  Many trainers wouldn't even attempt a consultation.  I had a lengthy conversation two days ago with one that recommended saying goodbye.  He described Pablo's suffering and we weren't helping him by keeping him alive.  Very disconcerting to hear.  A second trainer came to our home yesterday and agreed with the first trainer.  He pointed out that Pablo is like a mentally ill person with violent tendencies, there's no way of knowing the triggers for biting.  The rescue league that adopted him out to us should have made this decision when he was returned by his first owner.  Now my family is left with this difficult decision.   I know it's the right decision and I can't take the stress and worry that he may bite my child again or someone else.  I appreciate knowing I am not alone.

June 29, 2016

I rescued my Maddie 5 years ago from a high kill shelter. She was so sick with heartworms they 3 vets declined treating her. I finally found one who treated her and against all odds she survived. We fought side by side and through it all she became my "soul dog," my truest companion. She's had a few lingering chronic health problems through the years but has done well. Everyone adores her. Over the years she has occasionally nipped at a man (she was abused before I rescued her) but never broken the skin. We have taken precautions against it and years have gone by between nips. A few weeks she started not feeling well and she had some behavior changes. The vet couldn't find anything wrong but did note increasing identity. She has suddenly become very difficult to walk on lash, pulls lunges... As if she was never trained. Today she jerked the leash and bit our complex's maintenance man - 3 times. I was so shocked I know I didn't react fast enough and I am suffering crippling guilt. He isn't pressing charges and he wasnt seriously injured but the complex insurance requires she be permanently removed from the property within 24 hours. We have nowhere to take her and certainly can't rehome her. We are asking her vet to put her to sleep tomorrow. There are no words for how devastated I am. We have n children. She is my child. The bites were my fault. I could have done things differently. I am out of my mind with guilt, grief... I am afraid I will lose my mind when I have her killed tomorrow. I don't think I will survive this. But I have no choice. We are supposed to get Foster-to-adopt human children in a few months but I am pulling us out of that. I'm not fit to parent humans when I have let down my dog.

June 29, 2016

Thank you for this article, I volunteer at a "no kill shelter" 25 hrs a week.  One of the dogs I walk and spend time with 5 days a week is a repeat biter.  A panel has decided he is not adoptable so they told me that he was going to be euthanized. Because I know him they said only I could adopt him.  I have cried like a silly person, talked to everyone at the shelter to include my family and all agreed I should not adopt this dog.  My heart with dogs can sometimes be larger than my brain but after reading this I will bring him home 3 days to give him peace before they put him down.  I have fostered him before so he is familiar with my home.  After reading your article, my decision is made for him and for me.  Not worth the stress or risk.  Again, thank you for sharing.

June 28, 2016

Tomorrow, June 29, 2016, my husband and I will euthanize our nervously aggressive dog. We rescued her when she was around 10months old, and have had her for almost 6years.  She started to exhibit aggressive tendencies almost immediately, so we hired a trainer - one of whom she 'warning nipped." That trainer promptly told us to put her down. We didn't - we already loved her, and worked intently with her - training her to be 'polite", learning to read her body language - so we would know if/when she would nip at someone, taking her to a Vet Behaviorist, putting her on medication, and yet another trainer - this one specializing in dogs with aggressive tendencies.  Off leash dogs, and young kids running up to her were all bad, so living in NYC is tough and walking her became a very stressful event for me. If a person she didn't know knelt down in front of her, she might snap at them, so I had to be wary of that as well.  Our final moment was when our furry girl tried to bite our young niece - completely unprovoked. We got her under control quickly, and our niece wound up with only a bad scratch; but it left me with the sinking feeling that my girl, my love was never going to get better.  I couldn't imagine the guilt of knowing my furry girl might hurt a child - really hurt a child. So tomorrow we are euthanizing my baby girl - it's breaking my heart into pieces, but it will release her from the torment of our world.

June 25, 2016

Thanks so much for writing this.  I had to euthanize my 6 year old cocker spaniel and it was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life.  He could be so sweet but then, at times, could snap.  I finally came to the conclusion that I could not put my grandchildren at risk.  While I do miss him, I am certain it was the right thing to do even though it was such a sad outcome.

Lola Rubio
June 22, 2016

Thank you for sharing this painful episode in your life. On June 18th, just a few days ago, I too had to let go of my aggressive dog, Mayhem. I had him from the time he was 8 weeks old. I had loved him and spoiled him. His aggression started at around age one and became increasingly worse. When I spoke to the rescue from which I had acquired him, his mother and two siblings had all died from fighting or had been put down for aggression.  In a final effort to help him, I hired a trainer, whom he promptly attacked.  He then started exhibiting aggression towards my 9 year old autistic son. I had to plan his euthanasia and cremation. The act of doing that compounded my grief and guilt. Since Mayhems death, my other dogs are now calm and happy.  We no longer walk on egg shells. My heart still hurts for my lost boy.

June 21, 2016

Just wanted to post and say thank you to not only Phyllis for this article, but to everyone else who has shared their stories in the comments. I found it through Google while struggling to come to terms with what we had to do -- to have our beautiful boy Darwin put to sleep because of his aggression -- and it's been very comforting to know we're not alone. The guilt continues to eat away at me, and I often find myself in tears as I remember both him and his final moments, but knowing that many others have been (and are) in the same situation is helpful and reassuring. I posted a piece on my business blog about him, because I know it won't be going away any time soon. I felt I owed him that at least. If you'd like to, you can read about our experience, our decision, and one of the best friends I've ever had, here:  I miss him terribly, every day. Keep wishing I could turn back the clock and just have him snuggled up next to me again. Sleep tight, mate. At least I know you've found peace.

June 18, 2016

Today I made the very difficult decision to euthanize my beautiful lab x Heeler rescue. I've had him a year and in many ways he's made incredible joyful progress. Sadly those windows of joy are few and far between. I'm heartbroken making this decision but after consulting with trainers, controlling his environment, and loving & supporting him...I know it's the best choice. He's very aggressive and has attacked me and several other people. Although his bites have never broken the skin it's scary to see a fully grown lab snarling and aiming for your throat because he doesn't know you. Strangely enough I'm not afraid of him but I also know it's not a matter of if it's a matter of when he will seriously harm someone. He's not gender specific or size specific. If you're a human and he doesn't like you he attacks. And there's no way for me to predict who or when. If he bit a child or anyone else I would be devastated. He's constantly in a state of fear. Monday morning I make the call to set up a home appointment and put my beautiful boy Shadow to rest. I know I've done absolutely everything to help him and that is enough. Thank you for your insight and support by writing this article. Much love xoxo

June 17, 2016

I'm so relieved to have found this article. After having a rescue for the last 2 years, his behavior has rapidly declined over that last 6 months. His bitten me, my husband one of our dog watchers and has now snapped at another one. I've tried medication, exercising and reaffirmation behavior but to no avail. I know it's now become a matter of when he's going to hurt someone to the point of regret, especially since we have a child in the house. Since he's a rescue we're not sure of his full background but can only imagine it hasn't been the most ideal. His aggression was originally based on me, but it's expanded to members outside of our home. I hate having to make this decision. Part of me feels like I'm giving up on him, but another part of me knows there has to be chaos going on inside his home considering everything we've tried and watching him slowly decline. He snaps for no reason. He has no triggers. He "requests" attention from us, but then reacts aggressively when we give it to him. I can't help but feel that maybe the noise inside of his mind is slowly becoming overwhelming. I wish we had more insight into this but I know that we have no other options at this point. Even his vet has agreed. Hopefully he'll find peace.

Jonelle A
June 14, 2016

Thank you to everyone for sharing your stories and for this article. This is the first thing I have ever read about aggressive dogs that has been beneficial to me. I have spent so much time feeling like I was the only one going through this. Guilty because I failed and because I wanted to give up. Over the years, our Beagle has bitten both my husband and I, puncturing our skin on numerous occasions. We have been full of excuses and have done our best to cater to his needs and avoid his aggression. Recently he bit and punctured my baby's hand and my husband and I have finally come to terms with putting Linus down. Thank you for all your stories, you have helped me feel better about this decision. I don't feel alone and I know I am making the best decision for my family and ultimately, for Linus.

June 12, 2016

I euthanized my dog yesterday after she randomly attacked and bit me...again.  I spent close to 4 years trying to deal with mild aggressive behaviour that I kept telling myself I just had to work harder with her on but it kept getting worse.  I agree that there must be something misfiring in some dogs - my girl was never abused - she was pampered from the moment my parents picked her from the breeder - I adopted her from my parents who could not handle her from the time she was about 6 months - I thought she was just too big of a dog and wasn't getting enough attention - and I did make some progress with her however there were always the aggressive attacks out of nowhere where she would charge my husband or snap growl and try to bite.  The first time she bit me - I blamed myself because food was involved (me handing food to someone) and I thought I knew the source I can fix this.  But the aggressive acts became more frequent with no discernable source.  I was still in denial when she attacked me a couple of months ago because I moved at the same time as a visitor and bit me twice on the arm.  The realization of how much fear I had of her came when she accidentally got out of the yard a couple weeks later and I had visions of her attacking the neighbour kids or killing their dog or cat.  I was frantic for the short period of time before I caught her and got her back in the yard.  Yesterday she attacked again while I was talking to people in our kitchen (again no food involved).  I felt like an abuse victim - I couldn't with good conscious surrender her because I had no idea what her triggers were and knew that she would do this to a new family.  The veterinarians I talked with were excellent - no matter how much we love our dogs they are still animals - they do not reason like humans and they do act on instinct and behaviours that we might never understand.  I have lived with dogs my entire life and rescued many or adopted from unknown backgrounds.  I have dealt with troubling behaviours from barking to housetraining but this was the first truly aggressive dog that I could not get through to.  I worked in animal clinics in my early career and know that aggressive dogs don't get better magically - I have assisted in putting down aggressive animals who bit and wounded children and wondered why their owners didn't do something before this happened. I didn't want to be that owner. I feel absolutely guilt ridden and horrible that I somehow failed my dog but I also feel relief that I am not also dealing with the guilt and grief of her hurting a child or a stranger - it was only me that suffered her aggression. Like others who have posted here, I am going to grieve long and hard about this decision but I have to keep putting into perspective that she can't hurt anyone else and that she is no longer living the anxiety that she must have felt.

June 11, 2016

I have a 3 year old Chihuahua terrier mix. My fiancee has had him since a pup. He has been the sweetest dog until December. Our home was destroyed by a tornado the night before Christmas Eve. I thank God everyday the children weren't there but we were. We were seriously injured. Our dog Mario and one of my cat's kittens were dug out of the rubble. They were trapped pinned by a table for hours. They had no serious physical injuries. But since that night Mario started becoming more and more aggressive. First him but my Fiancee's grandma who was trying to walk him for us. Then tried to attack his uncle. Next it was my fiancee then the kids and me. He hasn't caused serious injury but it has steadily got worse. He will be fine one minute the next he is coming at you. The last straw was a few days ago. I have been trying to train him. I have been trying to train him. I have trained several dogs in the past. My mom and I have rescued countless animals. But here was the problem. He will take commands. He is typically a very submissive dog anyway. But I had put him on a leash after giving him a command to get down and he came after me. So I had him on a leash the next day in the house. I give him the sit command to give him some peanut butter and suddenly he growels and trys to attack me. I'm holding him out from me to prevent him from getting my legs. He doesn't stop and managed to slip out of his collar. My son heard the commotion and yelled from the other room. The dog then went after him. He had to climb on a chair back and I tried to capture the dog with a blanket to get it in its kennel. He managed to bite me through the blanket. When i got him in the kennel he came lunging at the door before I could get it latched. Me holding the blanket in front of me this usually sweet dog was lunging repeatedly trying to get past the blanket to rip into me. My son heard me scream and yelled out again. The dog again went after him which allowed me to capture him once more. It was horrible. I have spoke with two trainers who suggested everything I have already been doing. Give him treats they say.  Keep him on a leash to make sure everyone is safe. Keep trying. We just cant. I cant. I am pregnant and there are two kids in my home. He has went after them. He has tried to bite my son in the face. He has lunged at his face and got him on the hand instead. There is no way for me to be sure I can keep them safe without locking him in a box for the rest of his life which I can't do. It would be easy I think for me to put him down of he had managed to do serious damage. But I can't let that happen just so I can feel better. I know that and still my heart is breaking. Because 80% of the time he is the sweetest dog in the world. I feel like I have failed him. The scariest thing is knowing that he goes from sweet to visious in a heartbeat and never knowing when he will do it. My fiancee plans to have him put down on monday. Right now Mario is being so sweet. And it is just killing me knowing that these are his last days. And that I can't even let him be off a leash other than in his crate for a second. It is too risky. The tornado broke something we can't fix. It broke his mind.

June 6, 2016

On Saturday June 4th we made the really difficult decision to put our dog down. We had her 6 months and we adopted her from the pound-she had a terrible start in life. The first 14 months she was chained up which resulted in a deep collar wound developing. She was in the pound for 6 months, recovering and rehabilitating. At almost 2 she had no life whatsoever ,neglected, secluded and treated with disdain by her original owners. We fell in love with her adventurous spirit and sense of independence . She was extremely submissive with children, loved to sit almost on your lap on the couch and licked us incessantly . She loved us, we loved her. But she was starting to show signs of aggression though and only could express her love by attacking other dogs and slowly becoming more aggressive with people. The decision was do we wait for her to attack a human even worse a human child. Who knows what her mentality was after all her ill treatment. We showed her so much love and affection and put so many boundaries in place , it didn't help though ,it is twice as hard as both my partner and I did not get the best start in life. We felt like she was a reflection of us and we could fix her. She was broken tough, full of anxiety , fear , sadness, confusion and wariness when we left the house or we had people come to the home. Like other readers here we started to  plan our life around her, isolate ourselves, live with her behaviors, normalise them until her attack on Saturday , we knew in our hearts it was time to go so we did it ourselves so we could send her off in love . I'm totally broken but find solace in some of these articles here. Thank you.

June 5, 2016

Thank you for your story. I too have just gone through the pain of having to put down my own dog who I rescued as a puppy at just 8 weeks old and raised by myself. She went to work with me everyday and was loved by all who met her. But the last four months of her life she had started showing aggressive behavior sporadically and for no known reason. She had gotten worse over time and even with professional help she continually got even worse. She had bitten me a total of 4 times and I was dealing with her, but she had been attacking me almost on a daily basis randomly. I could be petting her and she was wagging her tail and then she'd snap and attack me. My vet told me from the beginning after running tests there wasn't anything she could do. Most people after finding out everything were shocked after finding out the truth, my neighbors thought my dog was mauling me and would frantically come over making sure I was ok afterwards. The day before having to put my family member down she attacked a neighbor who she had known since the day I brought her home. Luckily my neighbor wasn't injured too bad but the bite did draw some blood and my dog tried to attack more, but I had to restrain her from hurting anyone further. My co workers and family know the entire story but a few clients at my work have been talking negatively about how I shouldn't have euthanized her because everyone loved her and they would have taken her. But before I had to put her to sleep I asked if a more experienced owner would be able to take her and not one person offered. People are so cruel and so judgmental about what they don't know or understand. I know deep down I made the right call but having people tell me "I didn't love my pet" stings especially when I am still in the process of healing. I have not commented or said anything about this to many people because I keep to myself and didn't want people to think of my dog as being scary, but always took precautions when socializing my dog. I wish there was another solution but sometimes there is no other way. Having this be my first dog is very challenging and it's been difficult.  I've been told I should get another dog right away to help with the healing process but couldn't bring myself to get another dog so soon as the pain was too much. So I thank all of your stories and appreciate your understanding.

June 4, 2016

My wife and I are taking our dog this morning to do the same. He has bitten about six people we know, and 0ne we didn't know so well, but all were amazingly tolerant and understanding. He has started to make a move at children riding by on a bike and seems to view everyone except my wife and I a threat. In our home alone with us he is a great dog. But anywhere we take him, a park, camping, if people come over for a cook out, he goes into aggressive and territorial mode and snaps and bite at people. I talked myself out of turning back over to his breeder who also is a behavioral trainer and works with problem dogs and for police and military dogs as well, and couldn't bear to do it. Three times I almost did it and didn't want to give up on him, and finally he bit a good friend of ours last week who he has known since a puppy, and we called the trainer and brought him back. Two hours later the trainer called us and said we had to come take him back as he could not even get this dog out of his truck. He told us that this is only the second dog he has ever encountered that he couldn't work with. Our dog was in full attack mode and could have killed someone had he gotten out before we arrived. He looked at us and stooped, and we opened the door and he jumped out and ran over to our car and jumped in just like he had always done, a happy dog. We have tried to train, given exercise, socialize as well as we could all to no avail. This dog would have to live the rest of his life in a cage every time anyone came to our home, every time we went camping, we could never go away by ourselves and kennel him or leave him with friends for a weekend. Our lives have become consumed with the role of his restraint for the protection of everyone  who he saw. Our trainer told us this dog cannot be "fixed" only controlled, meaning constantly on a leash, muzzled, caged and hidden away from everyone but us forever. This then no longer is a dog but an inmate that we lock away for others safety, I can't do this anymore.   To all the self righteous animal rights people out there who vilify and berate people like me for doing this, What are YOU doing ? Are you opening YOUR home to dangerous animals ? Are you placing YOUR friends and children at risk ? If you are, I have never seen any of your ads or websites to come an get my or anyone else dog and bring that nightmare into YOUR house. So don't point fingers at us from behind the anonymity of your computer screens and render judgment. We had to put a dog down about fifteen years ago and it still is vivid and sad in my mind. I am dreading the trip to the vets, but have come to the end of my strength. I'm sorry pup, it was not your fault what you were born as, and I will have to bear this this decision all my life. If you are not an animal lover, then you can't understand the connection between owners and their pets, and no explanation would be enough to make you get it.

May 31, 2016

We have a one year old livestock guardian dog, a Maremma that we got to guard our poultry.  Her name is Tilly.  She has worried me several times with her aggression towards other (friendly family members) dogs but then a couple weeks ago she snarled and snapped at a neighbor girls friend.  Today, she snarled and snapped at my husband because he moved her bone during lawn mowing.  People are afraid of her (now my husband, too) and she weighs almost 100 pounds.  The other thing is this breed is so independent that they don't listen so you can't call her off.  I feel like rehoming her will be impossible.  She is escalating and this behavior with my husband is beyond acceptance.  I don't want to wait til a 100 pound dog latches onto someones face.  And I don't think any of you are wrong.  Reading the posts makes me wonder why you kept those dogs as long as you did but then I look at Tilly and understand.  Somewhat. Every dog isn't a good dog.

Andrea Nida
May 31, 2016

Thank you for sharing your story.  It's 5 am and I am laying on the couch with my baby. Sugar is snuggled in the covers with me. Today she is scheduled to be euthanized at's so hard to imagine a dog who loves our family with all her heart and is physically healthy will not be hear tonight.  I don't want to get into the details of the decision to do this. ...I don't want to feel like I need to justify this to others.....I know I did the best I could and tried. No animal should have to be so afraid of the people on the "outside" that anxiety causes the heart to race, pounding with fear, fast breathing and body stiffness that last for hours if not the rest of the day. She wants to go on a walk or car ride but in doing so provokes these horrific panic attacks when seeing "the outside enemy" causing heightened fear seeing the next "enemy" and the next until she is home and can pass out with an exhaustive sigh. So she lives safely locked within the confines of the house with curtains drawn... to the best of our ability we can trick Sugar into thinking no outside world exist. Unfortunately this is hard to manage and not very successful.  No family should have to live in fear of accidentally leaving the door open, or a 5 year old cry as I try to assure him I am not angry with him because in the excitement of running out to greet daddy after work.... he left the door open and mommy screams were not directed at him. It was terror that Sugar would get out and attack another innocent "enemy". No family should have to tell their 4 children it's not safe for your friends to come over or continually explain that they can't walk her, take her to the park, on vacation , camping or outside our home.  Sugar I love you so much. ..I have fought for you. our home with closed curtains you are the most amazing dog. You give the best kisses, provide endless hours of smiles,  laughter , love and warmth. We all love you. ...I love you so much ....I love you dear baby ...enough to let you go.

May 28, 2016

I cannot thank you enough for writing this article even thought it must have been heartbreaking to write it. It helped me make a very hard decision. I am a dog trainer and almost 4 years ago became the owner of a 2 year old working breed dog that was well bred, but trained by a VERY abusive trainer (who, thankfully is no longer training dogs). I didn't realize the extent of her fears and issues until months later. She had to be constantly monitored around other dogs. People, some could touch her, but I had to read her before giving permission to the person. She got over many of her people issues, but I would still deny certain people the right to touch her. Other dogs, well she was not a dog I would let my class dogs or any outside the family play with. I was the person who at the start of classes said please don't let your dog into my dog's face. I sweated when I took walks worried about off leash dogs. She did go on to earn obedience and Rally titles. The other day she went after my son's Terrier bitch who is 16 months old and very laid back for a Terrier. I took notice, my son participates in several dog sports with this bitch and in conformation. He is the youngest kid ever to put a JE on a dog. She never went after my older son's Terrier. Then, when she was at a dog trainer friend's who was watching the dogs for the day, it nearly happened. She went after the puppy again, this time she came across the field to get her. Thankfully, the puppy only received a few punctures. But this time it was different. I wasn't there, it was intentional. Now the heartbreaking decision had to be made. Rehoming was not an option. There were several elements to my decision 1. My oldest will try to break up fights. 2. A child could accidentally get bitten. 3. I could not as a parent let my kid's dog get killed in front of him. I knew it was coming. People (even my husband) told me to manage them differently. Yes, in a perfect word I could, but one day a dog was going to slip out or the wrong crate opened at the wrong time. I couldn't chance it. Separating her from the family wasn't an option. So after talking with fellow trainers who had seen and worked with us I made the decision. I had to talk it through. She was MY dog and I had put hundreds of hours of training and play into her. Was I doing the right thing? My heart broke, but I couldn't put my dog before my kids. So 2 days ago I euthanized MY dog and cried the whole time. I still do, it's a fresh wound. Now I'm surrounded by small terriers, 2 of them, but I know they are safe, and my boys are safe from an accident. She never would have bitten them intentionally, but in a dog fight incidental bites happen and who knows who would have bitten whom. I miss my girl, I always will. My decision tore me on two. But today, today I was able to take in a friend's puppy to train and socialize with my two dogs and not have to stress over crating and rotating. For the first time in years I was able to turn everyone out and know except for the mild, appropriate correction, everyone would be okay. And they are.  Do I feel guilty for euthanizing her? Guilty? No. Sad, lonely, yes. I gave her a life dogs dream of. She was my partner in many ways, she ate good food, had bones to chew, orange balls to chase, fields to run in, hiked many miles, and was a member of our family, none of which she would have had otherwise. So while I am still sad, I know life will go on and I will move forward slowly and my kids will be okay and one day, not any day soon, another dog will come along and fill the hole she left in our house...and my heart.

Diane May
May 28, 2016

Thank you so much for sharing your experience this terribly difficult subject. My 4 yr old bulldog mix (Otis 150 lbs)  has bitten my mother in law (2.5 yrs ago) and my daughter's father in law who was helping my husband work on the electric in our new  house. Both bites resulted in hospital visits and the 2nd may result in surgery. I can tell you, we have done EVERYTHING  in your article. I've been struggling with thinking of all the great traits he has. But his aggression -which is terrifying and instantaneous and completely random is just completely unacceptable and obviously dangerous. There's no rhyme or reason for his attacks ( electrical storms in his brain) and now that we've moved, the self imposed quarantine he's been under for the last couple of years won't work anymore. As I was crying about this whole nightmare to my sister she made me realize that he IS sick. Just mentally. I accept that I will cry and I will miss him greatly. But I also accept that it's time to put both him and myself out of this misery. Thank you again for helping to make an impossible decision possible.

May 28, 2016

I have turned to this article and the comments several times over the last two years, but this time the appointment with the vet is booked, and I am wondering if there is anything else I can do. If anyone has an idea that would save Teddy, please let me know. Teddy is an 11-year-old miniature poodle-wheaton cross who has bitten five times (and several more times that didn't break the skin). His last bite, two years ago, happened when my husband tried to put his leash on. Since then, we have not been able to leash him, but he is otherwise perfect. I take him to a wilderness park nearby every day. He has never had aggression issues with either people or dogs. All of his bites have occurred when my husband or I (or in one case a friend) reached in too close to his head. He also has an issue with guarding the car once he is inside. He won't come out and bares his teeth if we try. We discovered a way of pushing him out with the broom, and as soon as he is outside, he returns to his placid behavior. He really is a dog that never had any issues except that he felt threatened if anyone tried to get too close to him. It might sound crazy to have a dog that you can't put a leash on, and it is. We could probably get the leash on him, because some times he comes and sits when I put the leash on my younger dog to show that he wants me to put his leash on him. The problem would be taking the leash off, as any move towards his head or neck that makes him feel threatened can trigger a bite. Now my husband is going away for seven weeks and he feels that I will not be able to deal with Teddy if anything goes wrong. It was when my husband was away two years ago that Teddy bit me and tried to bite several other people. And when my husband returned, he bit him. All of these bites were on the hand, and were very deep and painful. My husband takes care of Teddy most of the time, because he works at home and I am away most days. Once he is gone, Teddy will almost certainly become anxious and sometimes that means that he won't come in the house at night and will stay outside barking all night. My husband also worries that he could get off the property and endanger a child. The vet told us that it really is impossible to keep a dog that you can't leash. I have consulted animal behaviorists and trainers, and nobody knows what to do. So we have booked a time next Thursday to have Teddy euthanized, but I can't bear the thought, and I feel that I should try everything I can to get him over this leash thing. At the same time, I know that there is nothing I can really do, and I need to prepare myself to say goodbye. I want to thank you, Phyllis, for telling your story, and everyone else who has told their story. I have never gone through any pain like this. I don't know whether it is guilt for having raised a pet that I could not manage, or just straight sorrow at having to say goodbye to a pet that was my inseparable companion for 9 years. Thanks for reading.

May 27, 2016

I am coming to grips with this myself. I cannot take the sorrow, and my dog is still alive. My wife wants to put him down. I will probably bury myself in work

Phyllis DeGioia
May 26, 2016

Hi Laurie, What a terrible experience. Even if he could function without you, rehoming would be a truly bad idea for the dog as it would increase his anxiety significantly and make everything worse. I know he's your heart dog. I know how incredibly difficult this is, believe me, and I don't say any of this lightly. Breaking up dog fights can be dangerous, and I hope you are alright.   I believe you've answered your own question when you say you cannot live like this anymore; between the significant stress, the vet and medical bills, the physical pain of both of your dogs and yourself, and the emotional pain of everyone involved, I think something has to change. My heart is with you.

May 26, 2016

Hello everyone, I have a terrible decision that I need help with. My dog got into a horrible fight with my Lab two days ago and I got bitten in the process. This is not the first I have gotten bitten while trying to break up a fight between my brindle rescue dog and another dog. This makes the second time a dig fight has forced me to go to the hospital because of this dog. This dog is my heart and I have been told to rehome him however, he cannot function without me. I let a friend watch him for a week because of an earlier fight and my dog didn't eat, or sleep he just paced around the house until I came to get him. I now have a dog in the vet for the second night in a row for observation and a very hurt brindle rescue dog at the house. This dog is not aggressive toward people and I only got bitten because I was trying to break up the dog fight but I cannot live like this anymore and I just don't know what to do.

May 23, 2016

Hi all.  I am a wreck today, but trying to hold it together for the sake of my son, who turned seven today.  Yesterday at his birthday party, my four year old American Eskimo got out and bit my daughter's eleven year old friend in the wrist (unprovoked).   This is months after my dog nipped the same girl's sister in the leg.  Last month, the dog got my daughter just under her eye.  All of this behavior has just started in the past few months and we have no idea why.  The dog is fine 99% of the time.  Anyway,  we have been advised to put her down and we have an appointment for tomorrow afternoon.  I will be home all day and tomorrow with the dog and I just don't know how to feel.  She is all happy and wants to play and cuddle and I feel kind of like a murderer.

May 22, 2016

My 16 year old daughter and I dreamed of owning a Siberian Husky.  We did our research, saved our money and found a breeder other friends had used.  We met our puppy when he was just 4 weeks old and visited him weekly until we brought him home. He had typical puppy nips but at age 6 months he started to "guard" anything.  I was bitten multiple times. Once, simply because I tried to pick up a ball of fur I wasn't aware he was guarding.   At 8 months old, I brought in a behaviorist who worked with Apollo for several weeks.  She told us we needed a more firm trainer.  At age one, we sent him to a boarding trainer who worked extensively with him.  While he was better on leash, off leash he would still bite. Our home is off limits to visitors. We can't pet, brush, or show affection to our dog.  We say we live with a "wild animal."   As long as you don't touch him, you are fine. I've been bitten a dozen or more times and this past weekend,  he bit a dog trainer at his "trainers's daycare" facility.  He's no longer welcome there. We've made the decision we must put him down.  I stare at this gorgeous dog and I know I will never, ever own another dog.   I am so heart broken that this broken animal has made me fear dogs the rest of my life.  I'm frustrated I couldn't fix him.  I'm sad because we had so much love to give him, and we've lived in fear for 2.5 years.   It is so unfair. I know we must do the right thing,  but it won't be easy. 

May 20, 2016

I'm writing this and been reading the comments in olde tyme bulldog whos entire at the min was fighting lastnight with my pugxfrenchie. i dived in to seperate them and the bulldog dived at my face as i had to bend down and bit my eye. its a mess and purple, and i feel like so many other do whove been writing on here. hes only about 13 months old and a huge dog. he bit me when he was about 6 months old badly on the hands when he was being naughty and i put him on his back he just went mental. im not sure what to do, to try neutering or have him pts. ive 3 grankids and im worried that visit at weekends but hes always in a crate or tied up outside on a chain when they visit. much as i hate to admit it im scared of him. ive had large breed dogs all my life from mastiff size to small breeds and some several at at time. ive never had a dog do this before ever x

Helen Weinbrecht
May 16, 2016

I had a dal apache i loved dearly same problem. Fear aggression. He would bite at impulsive moments he bite several times but the last time was my neighbors child. I had to do what you did i tried to get him back to the breeder on a plane. When they wouldn't take him on plane i knew i had to save apache from apache. I was there with him till the end. It was a moral responsibility but I know his spirit will always be with me. But yes it broke my heart

Phyllis DeGioia
May 16, 2016

Catherine, Thank you for your kind words. I'm sorry to hear about Gaston. You are definitely not alone, as you and I are by far not the only people who have made that choice. It's actually pretty common, and should be more common, but people don't talk about it much because they feel they failed or they're embarrassed that they couldn't "train it out" of the dog.  The feeling is a bit like removing your own heart from your body. Please remind yourself of how you would feel if he mauled someone severely, worse than whatever he's done before. That helps to put it all in perspective.  You're in my heart. Please take care of yourself.

Phyllis DeGioia
May 16, 2016

Jeremy, Thank you for the kind words, and I'm so glad this article, and the numerous people who have posted comments, has helped you so much. Dodger's aggression toward me, and his subsequent euthanasia, was one of the worst episodes of my life. For me, the pain has gone away, and finally three years later I can think of the episode without crying. Hopefully, it won't take quite so long for you and your wife to feel the same way. My heart is with you. Your words mean the world to me.

Phyllis DeGioia
May 16, 2016

Hi Rich, I'm so sorry you're experiencing this, as I know what a slam to the gut it is. In my personal opinion - mine only - I feel that you did the right thing. It's hard to reconcile the big baby who loves car rides and hanging out in the yard with the dangerous dog that has bitten at least 18 times in two years, some of which were unprovoked. German shepherds are large and can do significant damage. I'm not surprised that the only vet who would see him required him to be sedated before arrival; severe bites can ruin a veterinarian's career, nor am I surprised he was banned everywhere. My heart is with you.

Dot Kewley
May 15, 2016

Thank you so much for writing this. I am totally in despair as my weimaramer, who weighs more than I do, bit my face, unprovoked, last night. I have spoken to my vets, my boy is only 20 months old and this is the first ever time he has even offered to hurt/do anything. My vets have suggested we castrate him tomorrow and see how it goes. My problem is, having dogs all my life and now 60, I was attacked back in 1971 by two German Shepard's whilst working in the district, I still have the scars. I am now terrified, full of guilt, unable to eat and crying all the time. He is staying with a friend tonight. Sadly I have been getting vile comments all day about having him put in the big sleep and going to the rainbow bridge. Your comments will be much appreciated Xx

May 14, 2016

I just had to euthanize my one and a half year old Potcake (a rescue from the island of Turks and Caicos). My father sent me a link to this to read and help me and my wife through this incredibly difficult time. I have to say, reading your post has already helped me tremendously, and I just put him down not even 4 hours ago. We have a 17 week old baby at home now, and although the dog did not show aggression towards him ever, he did towards other dogs and other people and has bitten twice. This afternoon, I went to a shelter who said they would take him, but when he was growling and trying to attack the amazing and courageous volunteer at the shelter, I knew that he would not be safe anywhere but at my home, and I would not allow that one day longer with my baby there. It's so true, that euthanizing at one and a half for aggression is the other side of the universe from euthanizing because of pain or old age. It just feels different. After reading your post, you provided clarity and confidence in our decision to do what we did, and although we could be on opposite sides of the country or world, your words hit home like no other "thing" I've read on the internet prior. All I can say is, thank you.

May 13, 2016

Thank you for sharing your experience. My dog was put down 2 days ago. He was only 27 months old. The most handsome German Shepherd ever. 3 days ago he attacked the wife unprovoked. She closed the dishwasher and he attacked her. Biting her ankle and then getting on top of her and biting her arm. Thank God I was home. I was able to redirect his attack towards me. The next day he bit a friend in the arm that trains Shepherds. My friend was going to take him. It was the final straw. But, there's more. We are struggling with the question of "Did we do the right thing?"  Maybe we could have gotten him more help. The local dog whisperer had been called in months ago. My dog bit him and the guy quit. He got banned every where he went. The only vet that would allow him in, wouldn't touch him unless I heavily sedated him. He has now bitten my wife four times. Me?  At least a dozen. Still we ask ourselves if we did the right thing. He was a good dog outside in the yard. Loved his car rides. Acted a big baby at times. Still, Did we do the right thing?

May 12, 2016

Thank you Phyllis; i am in tears as I am taking Gaston tomorrow for euthanizing; he is a beautiful beauceron who turned 9 yesterday and today out of nowhere bit someone..again; a few weeks ago he had bit a good friend in the face and a few months back another friend; i sound like a crazy person for keeping a dog who had bitten several times. We took precautions such a putting him in his crate when people would come over and also recently got a muzzle but it is inevitable for at least one family member at times to forget taking the extreme precautions. Gaston adores me and all of us; he is fun, sweet and beautiful outside of his crazy episodes; we gave so many chances but I know in my heart it will happen again. I failed the people he bit and I failed Gaston. I never thought I had the right to take any life from anyone; i really do not have this right but i do not have the right either to put others in danger; i am afraid of the pain for many years and the permanent scaring for taking Gaston tomorrow; it is horrible but I am thankful to stumbling on your article to simply know I am not the crazy dog lady and I am not alone to suffer like this. Thank you Phyllis.

Phyllis DeGioia
May 11, 2016

Noelle, My heart is with you.

Noelle Bergeron
May 11, 2016

I am glad to have come upon your article. I just put Chance down May 6, 2016. He's bitten many family and friends over the 5 years from the day my son unknowly to me brought him home. I some how became the care giver to him as my son moved out and started a family of his own. He recently attacked my younger son while playing around with his brother, ( wrestling). Our other dog went after Chance and finally we broke them up. Needless to say my son received 33 stitches and it was millimeters away from a far worse outcome of what it already had been. I made the decision to place him down. I went alone with him. It was heartfelt, sad , and just completely crushed my heart. He wasn't right and we knew that over the years , but still decided to give him chances. It was the right choice and I know that bc the next time he attacked could have resulted in someone dying. I know the other side of him too, which was sweet and wanted kisses and to have his belly rubbed. He's at peace now and everyone isn't living on edge. I've been struggling with the guilt and all of the rights and wrongs and what ifs, but you really shouldn't have to walk on eggs and be in fear. Our other dog isn't like that at all. I still hurt and love you Chance. I hope this will help someone else.

Phyllis DeGioia
May 11, 2016

Kitty, the lengths you have gone to for this poor boy and how you changed his life impresses me deeply. To love such a terrified dog  is no small task, and I nearly cry when I think of your Buddy running freely through your house as a happy pet. I'm sad too that things worked out this way. Sometimes the kindest thing we can do hurts us the most. My heart is with you now, and will be on Friday morning. Take care of yourself.

May 11, 2016

Thank you for your article.  9 months ago, we found Buddy listed via a rescue site.  They listed as fearful flat-coated retriever, but friendly, etc.  As it turned out, this poor guy was horribly emaciated, was heartworm+ and had not been altered, in other words, he was not ready to be re-homed.  The foster had only had his shots.  He was scared when we got there, we took him.  So afraid that we've had to hold his food for him to eat, for months. His storm phobia is insane.  The sad part:  we love him so much and have watched him finally become a "dog."  When he finally started loping through the house, like a happy puppy, the joy we felt--no words.  There are also no words for when he suddenly would feel trapped, and attempt to bite.  I do believe some dogs are wired wrong.  This guy's fear, began progressing into fear aggression.  Some, with indicators.  Other times--no visible sign.  Those were the scary episodes.  Due to being crated during storms, he suddenly decided last week that he was never going in the crate again.  A fear aggressive dog, which cannot be contained during a storm can injure someone.  My only option was to walk a path through the house, for hours, until storm subsides.  He loves us dearly and has had 9 good months with us, but his anxiety is so great.  It is kinder for us to let him go.  No dog should be that afraid.  We'd worked with our vet, tried anxiety meds, but they had a detrimental effect.  They dropped his bite threshold even further.  I do love this boy, but he will be euthanized this Friday.  His episodes of fear aggression have escalated and we've been walking on eggshells for weeks.  I used to want to save them all.  Sadly, some can't be saved...but at least he knew happiness for awhile and his last moments won't be alone.  Thanks again for the article and to others which have shared.  It helps.

Richard Forest
May 11, 2016

Last week my wife and I had to put our beloved Tucker down at the age of 6.  He was a generally lovable guy, but would periodically snap and had bitten a couple of people, never seriously but enough that we had to keep him contained inside and walk him on a leash with a strong metal collar. We had tried medication and training but it didn't seem to make much difference. While walking him on a quiet dirt logging road, he snapped suddenly and ran and attacked another dog, and bit the owner as he was trying to separate the dogs.  He then ran off and attacked a porcupine, getting a load of quills in his face and mouth for his trouble.  Our other two dogs were fine the whole time, they didn't join in or anything.  Taking him to the vet was so hard, he was in such pain from the quills.  A week later I am still crying at times and feel such guilt.  Thank you for letting me know I did the right thing and that there are others who have had to face the same choice.

May 9, 2016

I am putting my dog, also named Dodger, to sleep tomorrow. I am staring at him now, wanting to soak up every last minute. I am so scared for myself over how I'll get through this. I am his person, the only one who loves him. My husband loathes him, my friends and family can't believe I've had him as long as I have. We've tried training, behaviorists and most recently drugs. This morning he attacked my 9 year old English Bulldog. He's currently getting stitches in his ear. I have a 17 month old baby at home who has been near far too many dog fights. We don't live normal lives. We never have guests, I only walk him on our secluded street. I have to board him anytime new people to be in the house. I don't travel to see my family because I worry what will happen while he's in boarding. I've lived this way for 6 years. There will be some relief but mostly sadness. Thank you for your post. It's nice to know I'm not alone. I know it's the right decision but it doesn't help the hurting right now.

Phyllis DeGioia
April 21, 2016

Lori, I am sorry to hear about the bite, and I'm grateful you did not lose the eye. The sick feeling is completely understandable, and it's the kind of feeling that eats at your soul. It's possible that Diesel has a medical condition causing this change in behavior. Before anything else, I would suggest searching for a possible medical cause as some of them cause behavioral changes. Neutering and/or meds may or may not help, it's difficult to know. What I can say for sure is that you cannot live with a dog you are afraid of, especially one that is 110 pounds. It's unfair to you and the other people and pets in your home. While you are deciding what to do, if the acting weird signs return, do not interact with him and if possible, either put him or the other pets into an enclosed room to help prevent another incident. I wish you luck, I know the feeling, and there's no pain like it.  My heart is with you.

Lori McKay
April 21, 2016

I feel like I am going to die.  I have a 5 year old GSD named Diesel and he has been the most amazing dog I have ever had.  We live on 46 acres and have 4 GSD and two old black labs.  Diesel is the only male and his loyalty and disposition have always been incredible.  Until last night.  I have always gotten down on the carpet to play with him.  He usually gets all excited like a puppy.  But last night he was acting weird and before I knew it he growled and lunged toward me and bit may face.  Two puncture wounds on my left eyelid.  I have had him since he was 10 weeks old. I, although probably foolish to say this, trusted this dog 100%.  Now I am afraid of him and am considering putting him down.  My vet suggest neutering him and putting him on meds but I do not know that I will be able to trust him and he is a 110 lb big dog.  I am heartbroken and I have been crying all night.  It is 7.30 am here in CO and I need some help!!  I am dying inside.  My dogs are spoiled, they sleep with my and they have a doggie door with an acre fenced in and are treated amazingly!  Never any kind of abuse ever!  I AM SICK.

April 17, 2016

I have a basset who has attacked my wife a few times. A basset, supposedly the mellowest and friendliest dogs out there. He doesn't snap he literally attached and keeps attacking until I stick a chair in between my wife and him. It happened again this morning, so I'm in the same situation that you were 2 two years ago. It's so weird, he has such a comfortably life, spoiled, loved, never abused or anything like that. We had him since he was 8 weeks old. I just can't understand how he could bite us and then 2 minutes later act like nothing is wrong. He has broken the skin a few times so it's serious. I just keep looking at him wagging his tail at me, while saying you signed your own death warrant. What is wrong with you??? Man, I'm conflicted. I know what needs to be done but it's hard. It's hard enough putting a sick dog down, I've never put a 6 years (otherwise) healthy dog down. I just took him to the vet 2 days ago and they said he looked fine. (Albeit i need to muzzle him because he doesn't like getting shots) We tried training, the trainer used a shock collar and we used that for a while but not in the past few years. I woke up today thinking that it was going to be a great day, Sunday morning I just made a cup of coffee... Now all I'm doing is thinking where did I go wrong? This is going be a tough day. Thanks for listening.

April 14, 2016

We had to put down our 7 year old border-collie mix, Miles, this past week. This blog was very helpful, and the comments section helped us realize that we were not the only ones going through this heart wrenching decision. He always had issues with crying and separation anxiety, so we had him on Prozac since he was a puppy. I'd like to think that Miles had some kind of early-onset dementia. Most of the time, he was the sweetest dog. As he got older, he developed unpredictable moments of aggression that increased in frequency and severity. We couldn't find a clear trigger. We knew that we could not re-home him, and we wanted to give him one final month. I also wanted to see what he would be like off Prozac. He forced our hand when he bit our babysitter, and then bit me while I tried to release his bite. It was the hardest thing I've ever done, taking a physically healthy dog, who was a loving member of our family, to the vet to be euthanized. In my head, I know it was the right decision, but my heart still aches. In hindsight, we shouldn't have waited that final month, because someone did get hurt. Fortunately, she will recover without any permanent injury. Also, I think the Prozac was helping, and he got worse when we stopped it. To anyone else in this same situation: You are not alone, and there are many of us who understand your pain.

April 14, 2016

Dear Lisa, It's been nearly a year since we had our beautiful boy put to sleep because of his aggression and biting. We had Floyd (chocolate -working - Cocker Spaniel)from a pup at 8 weeks old and we then, when he was 3, decided to adopt another dog who was 7 months old at the time and very placid as a companion (a Springer).  The two got on very well but every so often Floyd would bite one of us for no reason, mainly my husband, and badly.  We had him put to sleep when he was nearly 6 and it broke our hearts as we loved him so much.  That last evening haunts me.  Yes, it is normal to still miss your other dog - you wouldn't be normal not to.  After nearly a year I still miss him and think of him every day.  I'm hoping with more time I can learn to live with it, even though I knew I had no choice at the time.  I'm afraid this is life and we get the good with the bad.  I try and remember the good times, which were many, and not dwell on the end.  He was unique and will never be replaced.

April 11, 2016

Thank you everyone who wrote their stories on this site, they made doing what we knew we had to do yesterday a little easier. We rescued Buckwheat when he was just 7 weeks old from the local animal rescue league. Part Shepard part Shar Pei the cutest little guy i had ever seen, my first pup, he looked like eddy munster with his eyebrows,  I was in love.  He was a partner for China, a pit lab mix who we had rescued a few years earlier with Cowboy a blue healer. Cowboy died from kidney failure and China was so sad, we took her around to meet new friends and she picked little Buck. Buck was taken from his mother at just 5 weeks and as a result wasnt fully developed mentally, China was his suragate mom, she showed him the ropes. He lived to meet people, he thought everyone should get to meet him tail wagging, he was a cutie.  We noticed his food anxiety a few months later, he would growl and stand over his food. He also would growl when we patted him at night on the couch, my wife said this wasnt good behavior. I said it was he was tired and didnt want to be touched. After playing in the yard one afternoon the UPS truck came up the hill, Cowboy and China hated that truck and she decided to get it but it got her. Buck was about one year and around 70lbs at this point. We were all very sad  and decided to rescue Django an English Lab for a playmate for Bucky. They never really bonded as we had hoped and Bucky was beginning to show his dominance at that point. Nothing really bad we thought at this point just normal male agressive behavior. While playing in the park with his buddies , one little un nutered dog pissed him off and he drew blood, had him in is mouth. Next he bit my daughters boyfriend, then me when i was just reaching to pat him. I scolded and forgave him and all seemed to be fine, he kept on getting more and more skittish and anxious though. He was scared of everything