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Advice needed: Keep an aggressive dog or not?


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Should I keep an aggressive dog or not? I am seeking advice from pet owners on this matter. I only want advice and recommendations and please, no personal

attacks or I will close this thread.

 

I own a 9 year old mix breed (part terrier and part ?). I got her from the pound 8 years ago. They didn't have anything on her history.

We welcomed her into our home and over time, noticed that she became very protective of me. She has anxiety and has become very

aggressive. She has bitten my elderly father twice (requiring stitches) and has made numerous attempts at lunging at him when she feels

he is getting to close to me. I can't bring people to the house for for fear of her attacking them. She has even attempted to bite me too.

She is taking anxiety meds in attempts to calm her. Nothing has helped. We have changed her dosing as well. Still nothing helps.

My father and I are not in the best of health and although we love her and she has been a part of our family and brought us joy and companionship,

I struggle with keeping a dog with such an aggressive nature. I did think of giving her away to a family, or individual, but I feel I must be honest

about her aggressive behavior. I would hate to find out she bit a child or anyone else.

I have discussed this with friends and family. Some tell me to take her back to the pound (I knew what they will do there)......others, tell me to keep

her, but confine her to a place......, give her to someone.........

I don't know what to do. What I am sure of is I don't want to see my father endure any more bites. Both times my father was bit, he was reaching for me

phone in one instance and my dog thought he was going to attack me!

There you have it!

What would you do under these same circumstances?

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So I don't know much about law but where I grew up there was a one bite rule -if your dog bit someone and it was the second time you could be liable. I have been bitten and it haunted me for years and made me scared of most dogs for years - it's only recently subsided in the last number of years. I would rehome the dog but only to a family who knows his vicious propensities. I'm really glad you're not having anyone come over. Someday your dog likely will attack a maintenance person or other person who comes over and one of you forgets to put him in a locked room. I understand you love her and I think that keeping her is way too dangerous to you and others.

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Can you bring her to a better veterinarian who will do a proper evaluation and give you a better second opinion? Particularly if the behavior is new or worsening. Sadly the dog is a danger to your elderly father and perhaps a huge liability if it hurts anyone else.

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This could potentially be harsh so....do read on or pass....

 

 

 

She is not aggressive, she is very insecure and lashing out due to fear. This insecurity is due to your behavior, OP, specifically how you treat the dog and how you respond to her behaviors. I am NOT implying that you are a bad person, only that you don't really know how to respond correctly so as to build confidence in the dog. Instead, you are likely exacerbating her insecurities with the best of intentions. I hate to tell you this but you are the cause of her issues. Medication isn't going to solve this. Get a really good trainer and understand that you need the training more than the dog does. Look up Cesar Millan. If you can find a trainer who follows his methods near by it will be a life saver to all of you. In the alternative, let someone else with experience take her off your hands. Of course make sure you disclose fully all of her issues. There are also no kill shelters where she can be re-socialized and become a happy dog and live out her days peacefully. It would really be a kindness if your own health and life situation is such that this isn't working anymore or you simply cannot dedicate the necessary time to correct things. Again, that wouldn't make you a bad person, but rather a caring one.

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Unfortunately, there are some dogs that are really messed up, due to earlier experiences.

 

A friend of mine adopted a pooch from the pound several years ago. Many aggression issues!! The dog has gone through several trainers for aggression and has done Prozac - off Prozac now, as it was affecting her health. The dog is still aggressive - better with people, but not completely stable - and is a complete psycho with other dogs. Some cannot be rehabilitated.

 

I grew up with dogs and am a complete dog fanatic. i do not use this advice loosely.

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This could potentially be harsh so....do read on or pass....

 

 

 

She is not aggressive, she is very insecure and lashing out due to fear. This insecurity is due to your behavior, OP, specifically how you treat the dog and how you respond to her behaviors. I am NOT implying that you are a bad person, only that you don't really know how to respond correctly so as to build confidence in the dog. Instead, you are likely exacerbating her insecurities with the best of intentions. I hate to tell you this but you are the cause of her issues. Medication isn't going to solve this. Get a really good trainer and understand that you need the training more than the dog does. Look up Cesar Millan. If you can find a trainer who follows his methods near by it will be a life saver to all of you. In the alternative, let someone else with experience take her off your hands. Of course make sure you disclose fully all of her issues. There are also no kill shelters where she can be re-socialized and become a happy dog and live out her days peacefully. It would really be a kindness if your own health and life situation is such that this isn't working anymore or you simply cannot dedicate the necessary time to correct things. Again, that wouldn't make you a bad person, but rather a caring one.

 

I so don't agree with that ^

 

Sue: This is not about you and you not being able to handle her. If she's been trough training, has been on meds and none of it is working she's simply and aggressive dog who can't be trained.

 

Don't put yourself, any children, your family or anyone else in her wake. She is 8 years old now and the best place for her (and this is coming from an animal lover) is to be put out of her misery.

 

The only appropriate home for her now would be where she is meant to use her aggression to keep out unwanted trespassers.

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I have some questions:

 

What training has she been provided? Is it ongoing? (including you're still training and working with her?)

What do you do when she lunges or bites?

Under what circumstances is she "protective" of you?

Have you had her regularly and thoroughly vet checked? (eyesight, hearing, everything?)

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people used to WANT dogs that loved their family, but were protective of them. most of my childhood dogs were. Not every dog is the social dog that loves every single person. You have adopted your dog 8 years ago -- so your dog is not a spring chicken. I think the proper thing to do is to do what i and most dog owners do -- you babygate the dog in a room away from repair people or guests your dog does not know. Dogs also pick up on your body language if YOU are nervous.

 

If your dog turned on you, that would be different (and i exclude getting excited and taking a treat out of your hand to harshly, or if they are in pain or you did something like sit on them - that is different entirely). But if your dog just doesn't like strangers -- well, that might not be the behavior you want, but you have had this dog for 8 years and its unfair to suddenly want a social, goofy dog.

 

I think that your dog lacks confidence and guidance from a real good trainer/behaviorist will help perhaps with anxiety and maybe get the dog checked out neurologically as well.

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Has she been aggressive the entire 8 years? If so she’s been doing this behaviour for a long time and it will be hard to fix. Have you worked with a trainer?

 

I agree sit down with your vet and discuss options, humanely euthanizing her might unfortunately be the best....

 

If you give her away to another family and she bites someone else, good chance she will either be seized (if it’s a stranger and they report it) or given away to the pound...where she may get deemed aggressive/dangerous and put down. At least with you making the choice she gets to spend the last bit of time with her family and loved...not in a cage confused and scared.

 

If you find someone who truly knows how aggressive she is and they are willing, then sure! But I think it’ll be hard. Unfortunately with animals lots of people think they are experts and can handle it, when they can’t and just perpetuate the behaviour.

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We're talking getting the dog at 1 year, not 6 years and battle hardened. Socializing your dog is crucial, particularly when it begins to display protective behavior. You basically now have a guard dog, and, unfortunately, she likely will never be able to adapt her role after 7 years of never having learned otherwise.

 

Confining her when you have guests wouldn't be the worst thing so long as it's spacious, comfortable, and sanitary enough. But, if you plan on introducing anyone new into your life, they'll be at physical risk of getting bitten or worse.

 

Talk to a local vet. Very much hurts me to say as it's not at all the dog's fault, but you're likely going to have to look into the most humane way to putting her down, particularly if she's no longer nipping to warn and is biting to wound. However, keeping hope, a veterinarian may have viable alternative suggestions. For instance, there are some sanctuaries that are more forgiving when it comes to admitting aggressive dogs.

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How long until this dog became aggressive/protective in your care? My family once tried to adopt another dog, but had to give it up within a month because it was very aggressive. She latched onto me and became protective, biting at anyone or any dog who came near me (my family, friends and our other dog). It turned out she was caged for most of her life by the previous owner. Hence, was not socialized.

 

Did/do you take your dog on walks, introduce her to other people or dogs? If not, this would be a start, with extreme caution and supervision of course. A trainer may help her. There is a way to teach aggressive dogs to behave better, although finding someone to help you doesn't have any guarantees. If your dog is too far gone, then you may either have to keep her away from people for the rest of her life or give her up to professionals at a shelter. They would evaluate if she has a chance to be adoptable, but most likely she would be euthanized since she has not been socialized.

 

If I were you, I would try my other suggestions first before giving her up. It could save her life. I would consult an experienced trainer first and follow any advice they have to offer.

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She accepts the people we accept. In fact, she is overly affectionate. However, the problem arises when a guest of ours, even someone who is family or she has known for

years goes to hug me or gets in close contact with me. That is when she gets into her protective mode. She will growl and show teeth or lunge toward them and I have never

been the type of pet owner to strike an animal. So, I scold her and remove her from the room., where she cannot bother anyone. I use a spray bottle and usually all I have to

do is grab the bottle and she calms down, at least for a while.

She has been checked out by the vet and he diagnosed her with anxiety disorder and has been on anxiety meds for years. We change medicines and dosing......nothing helps.

She is afraid of things like: spitting (she runs from the room), she is afraid of the sound of the utility closet door opening (she runs and hides...it is where I keep the flashlight), which she is also afraid of. She doesn't come when called even though I have worked tirelessly in this area by rewarding her with treats when she comes when called, but still, if she wants to stay outside and I call her to come in, she looks at me and runs to the back of the yard. She is anxious when I am away, and cries while I am gone. What a reunion we have when I return! We do have happy times.

Many have some very good suggestions. I have been doing more thinking and have considered giving her to a business or a person (who is made fully aware of her aggressive nature), she may be a good watch dog. I have located several NO Kill shelters in my area as well. I am more concerned with my father getting bit again and I don't want to put him through that.

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She accepts the people we accept. In fact, she is overly affectionate. However, the problem arises when a guest of ours, even someone who is family or she has known for

years goes to hug me or gets in close contact with me. That is when she gets into her protective mode. She will growl and show teeth or lunge toward them and I have never

been the type of pet owner to strike an animal. So, I scold her and remove her from the room., where she cannot bother anyone. I use a spray bottle and usually all I have to

do is grab the bottle and she calms down, at least for a while.

She has been checked out by the vet and he diagnosed her with anxiety disorder and has been on anxiety meds for years. We change medicines and dosing......nothing helps.

She is afraid of things like: spitting (she runs from the room), she is afraid of the sound of the utility closet door opening (she runs and hides...it is where I keep the flashlight), which she is also afraid of. She doesn't come when called even though I have worked tirelessly in this area by rewarding her with treats when she comes when called, but still, if she wants to stay outside and I call her to come in, she looks at me and runs to the back of the yard. She is anxious when I am away, and cries while I am gone. What a reunion we have when I return! We do have happy times.

Many have some very good suggestions. I have been doing more thinking and have considered giving her to a business or a person (who is made fully aware of her aggressive nature), she may be a good watch dog. I have located several NO Kill shelters in my area as well. I am more concerned with my father getting bit again and I don't want to put him through that.

 

I think that you should confine her to another room when you have guests OR confine her when people arrive and leave (so you avoid having her out when people would go to hug you.) and if its a really long visit - she is out for periods of time but not all the time - she has breaks. people should not be spitting inside your house - so that's easy to avoid. In otherwords, set herself up for success.

 

Pick someone who has calm demeanor who you like and that the dog likes and when they come over, go for a little walk even if its in the yard and trade off who has the leash. Also, teaching your dog tricks and stuff gives confidence. Routine gives confidence. having "jobs" like learning tricks, learning to switch sides, etc.

 

is this dog a small or large dog? If she is a large dog, she doesn't have many years left and it would be unfair to dump her.

 

Sending the dog to the shelter will be the death of her. And a nervous dog does NOT make a good dog guard - guard dogs are dogs that have "jobs" - and No kind person leaves a dog out as a "guard dog" - dogs who work with a handler are a different story. She would be fearful -- not protective of strangers.

 

I would also take her outside on a really long leash so that you can retrieve her easily.

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Yatsue.......I really wish I knew more about her history. The animal shelter that I got her from had no information about her history. I sensed in the beginning that she was nervous and thought that the problem would go away once she became used to us. Most of the dogs I have owned have been rescues, and I haven't done anything differently. It is very possible that she came from an abusive home or was placed in various homes the first year of her life. If I take her for a car ride, she cries all the way there and is extremely anxious. I speak calmly to her with words she understands, but to no avail. Having experience training lab rats in college (and very successfully) she has been my biggest challenge!

So is so complex and difficult to train.

 

Abitbroken......actually, nobody spits ( I couldn't find the word to describe a sound I make moving my lips together, but it comes out like a f**t! LOL I don't do it on purpose, she has enough problems, but if I do it or someone does it, she's out the door in a flash.

It is hard for me to understand the mind of a dog. One who is so affectionate and playful one minute can turn on a dime if someone hugs me or reaches their hand out to me...

she goes beserk. I do put her in another room when we have guests visiting for the day, but when family visits and spends the night, it can be more difficult.

 

And Birdie.........I have never given up on a dog but I know my limits. I don't think it is worth the risk my dad getting bit again..and it could be so much worse! Last year,

I was holding her in my arms and I told her to give dad a goodnight kiss. When my dad leaned in toward her (which of course was near me) she lunged at him and had he not

jumped back as quick as he did, she would have taken a part of his cheek off! Oh dear! I just don't think it's worth the risk. I just want to do right by her.

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Well, I'm not Dog Whisperer but I don't think its a good idea to lean in to kiss any dog. If they want to lick you in an appreciation and 'love' they will do it without moving in on them.

 

I hope you can find a farm or something where she can keep the barn cats in line and isn't around any kids. If not, then sadly I think there is only one other choice for her. (IMNSHO)

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You have committed to this dog and had her for 8 years --- its not right to give up on her towards the end of her life. So don't blow raspberries at her. And some dogs react when you use intense eye contact with them. Try not to stare her down, but sometimes look indirectly at her or vary your eye contact. Staring a dog down is aggressive. I suggest that you either have family stay in a hotel, or while they are there, you just confine her to a room and walk her outside to go to the bathroom. Its not ideal, but if its only for a night or two ---- i have had to make accommodations when people visited and i had 2 dogs that would jump into a strangers car if i wasn't careful and one was protective of me to the core. So you know what i did? I babygated my dogs so that child visitors or my dad who can be obvlivious when he opens the door do not accidentally let them out the front door. And they were occasionally roaming in the house at quiet times. It was not convenient, but we did it for a few days.

 

I still think you need to enlist a trainer. Some dogs just become one person dogs because of their nature or because their owner did not properly train or social them -- she will never be a slobbery goofy dog that loves everyone she meets - but training will also train you to anticipate her and to protect her from situations as well.

 

Well, I'm not Dog Whisperer but I don't think its a good idea to lean in to kiss any dog. If they want to lick you in an appreciation and 'love' they will do it without moving in on them.

 

I hope you can find a farm or something where she can keep the barn cats in line and isn't around any kids. If not, then sadly I think there is only one other choice for her. (IMNSHO)

 

This is a bad idea. She will only be scared and run away from a farm if she is not used to it. My uncle has a farm and everyone dumps their cats there. Some would just eventually disappear. Unless it is a very specific reputable dog rescue that only works with scared and feral dogs - but at 8, she is best staying with her owner. I think that the OP needs to be a more saavy dog owner -- its not like they just got this dog -- Its been 8 years and if its a big dog, it won't live too many years. The dog needs to be babygated when guests are over. That's what we did growing up to our dogs when people came and when people left or if it was someone they didn't know. No trainer has seen this dog. And when this dog passes of old age, then the OP should get a cat. Or a dog from a foster based rescue where the rescue has taken time to know the dog or they should foster to adopt and the OP has to commit to training.

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Well, up to her but I'm not going to suggest she keep a dog that bites nor will I guilt her into making any type of decision. I don't think any of us know enough about her dog or dogs in general to be certain of what and what isn't what she should be doing so IMO, the best advice is to talk to her vet and perhaps the dog pound to see if they have any suggestions.

 

If she bites anyone else then laws in a lot of jurisdictions will dictate that she put down so there's that to think about.

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Well, up to her but I'm not going to suggest she keep a dog that bites nor will I guilt her into making any type of decision. I don't think any of us know enough about her dog or dogs in general to be certain of what and what isn't what she should be doing so IMO, the best advice is to talk to her vet and perhaps the dog pound to see if they have any suggestions.

 

If she bites anyone else then laws in a lot of jurisdictions will dictate that she put down so there's that to think about.

 

The "dog pound" is a bad idea. A reputable, foster based rescue is the way to go. Pounds will just put the dog down if it doesn't get adopted in a set number of days and a fearful dog will be even more fearful there in that environment and not do well or have any chance of getting adopted. Researching online rescues that specifically deal with dogs needing rehabilitiation or "scared" dogs, etc. But at 8 years old, with some training of the owner, sometimes its best to "manage" the dog at home - babygates, proper introduction to strangers in doses, etc. and actually get a trainer instead of just simply dumping the dog somewhere else.

 

I had a SMALL dog that was protective and freaked out when anyone reached into my personal space. It got better because i started to manage the behavior (if i ran into someone i knew in public, i would extend a hand out to head off them coming in for a hug, or i would tell them 'my dog is a bit protective....'), but people gave her slack because she was little where they would not give a bigger dog any slack.

 

Anyway -- whatever the decision -- contact a trainer.

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I have raised and trained many rescue dogs.

 

I will say that your dogs aggressive behavior does not sound like that of a psychotic dog. I have dealt with those before and there are mostly untrainable.

 

It sounds like your dog has developed aggressive habits based off of your interactions with the dog.

 

It sounds mostly like you have given the dog dominance over your household and you. It also seems like your dog has antisocial tendencies, which makes socializing crucial.

 

I am not a big fan of drugging the consciousness out of a pet. Most those drugs have a poor record of actually helping balance brain chemistry and essentially just zonk your dog out.

 

But unless you can put the pet into a specialized area for aggressive dogs then you just need to put it down.

 

I would recommend reading some literature or taking a class on how to train dogs if you want to be a responsible owner.

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I have raised and trained many rescue dogs.

 

I will say that your dogs aggressive behavior does not sound like that of a psychotic dog. I have dealt with those before and there are mostly untrainable.

 

It sounds like your dog has developed aggressive habits based off of your interactions with the dog.

 

It sounds mostly like you have given the dog dominance over your household and you. It also seems like your dog has antisocial tendencies, which makes socializing crucial.

 

I am not a big fan of drugging the consciousness out of a pet. Most those drugs have a poor record of actually helping balance brain chemistry and essentially just zonk your dog out.

 

But unless you can put the pet into a specialized area for aggressive dogs then you just need to put it down.

 

I would recommend reading some literature or taking a class on how to train dogs if you want to be a responsible owner.

I have to agree. Was the dog treated like a “ human” and not like a dog? Dogs live in hierarchical society . If you don’t assert your dominance as the Alpha but instead treat them like a pampered child they become a nervous wreck .

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