I have had a few disturbing comments lately in many different places; from people who have fairly seriously aggressive dogs but who are also threatening to re-home them!!??!!
Recently I was on the phone with a dog owner who was trying to give me the “run down” on her dog. It seems he had shown signs of fearfulness and aggression as a puppy, but (like most people) they thought it would go away and did nothing about it.
After the second bite, they began to lock the dog up behind bedroom doors when people came to visit but the dog was still out of control, received no obedience training, and was never taken out for any kind of obedience, control or socialization work.
Essentially locking him up was a “band aid” and not only didn’t help the behavior, the frustration from it and being able to “hear but not see” visitors actually made the behavior worse; but of course they didn’t worry about it because he was safely locked away… right?
They were unsure whether one of their numerous children actually let the dog out, whether he just wasn’t really safely secured, or whether he managed to open the door somehow by himself.
But long story short; he flew out of the room bit a child in the face and sent her to the hospital.
This is what I heard from the owner:
“If he bites someone again; we are going to have to find him another home!”
I may be out of the loop, but who wants this dog?
I am a professional and I would not want, nor would I take this dog home!
It is my job as a dog owner, home owner, family member, and friend to make sure that my house is as safe as possible and housing taking and housing someone else’s aggressive dog is not something I am looking to do.
Keeping, housing, and training your own dog that happens to have a problem with aggression and keeping a bite from happening is difficult enough!
The Problem Is… I Hear This Fairly Frequently
People think that because a dog is aggressive; they can just pawn it off on someone else or just drop it at a shelter to be adopted by another unsuspecting person.
And, in all honesty, most of the time they don’t even tell the new prospective family or the shelter that there is even an aggression issue.
Or, they try to convince themselves that if they place the dog in a home without children, without men, without women, without other dogs or animals that the dog will be fine.
Ultimately they are just trying to rationalize a bad situation; even though it didn’t work for them it surly would work for someone else or someone else could handle the dog.
I have never lived in a world where No man, No child, No woman, or No other animals existed.
In the real world, even if you don’t live with children or men or women or other animals; they still exist and will likely come into your home at some point in time.
Even though I have never had human children of my own (genetically) I have still had my friends’ kids, family’s kids and other children visit my home so I would never have wanted a dog that didn’t like or was aggressive toward children!
I Hate to be Brutally Honest But…
Sometimes it is in the best interests of the family and the aggressive dog to have the dog put to sleep if they can’t or won’t control him, rather than find someone else to take on the aggression issue and risk more bites and extreme abuse.
I know that, that is an extremely controversial comment. And, I am talking about “real” aggression and bite history (although even dogs that just growl are hard to place) but let me tell you why I feel this way…
I once worked in a little backwoods town doing some dog training and working with people and their dogs on obedience and behavior modification; I even worked with the local humane society.
A dog with “aggression issues” and a bite history was given to another family. The family even knew the dog had previously shown aggression, but I am not sure if they thought the dog wouldn’t have aggression at their home, or if they just figured they could handle it.
But, they couldn’t and within a fairly short period of time, the dog who now lived outside bit one of their children.
And then, the man beat the dog to death with a shovel.
I don’t think any dog deserves to die in such a horrific manner and I also am sympathetic to the child who didn’t deserve to be exposed to a dog that was a known biter.
It would have been so much more kind to have the dog humanely euthanized. It would have been so much less tragic all around, for the dog, the child that had to witness it (gasp) and even the guy that felt like he had to or lost his temper and did it (although I make no excuses for his disturbing behavior).
And for Those of You That Think NO KILL is actually “NO KILL”
Well, most aren’t. Most No Kill shelters will still euthanize aggressive animals; which, again, in my opinion is not necessarily a bad thing.
No Kill shelters profess to adopt out all “adoptable” dogs, however most aggressive dogs fall under the “unadoptable” blanket.
And again, I don’t find this offensive. I think living life in a shelter, with hard concrete floors, with no human interaction or on an “island” with no other companionship is also no life for a pack animal to live!
So Before You Decide to Give Up on Your Dog
Realize that people don’t seek out “aggressive” dogs.
Everyone want the “perfect” dog that has no aggression or behavior problems!
And, placing a dog that has shown aggression or has previously bitten with another family, even if you disclose the incident can set up for litigation and the loss of all of your money and property for the rest of that dog’s life.
If you contact a shelter or rescue organization be as honest as possible. Your dog, who was once a loved member of your family deserves it.
Honesty will help these organizations do the best they can for your pet.
If You Decide to Keep and Work with Your Dog
Find a veterinary behaviorist to help set you and your dog up on a behavior modification program.
Only a vet can prescribe medications that may help you get the aggression under better control!
Stick to the plan and do what they say!
Behavior modification is HARD WORK especially when it comes to aggression.
Many, many changes will need to be made in order to keep your dog and your guests or other people safe.
Don’t let your guard down.
Even if you haven’t seen an “aggressive incident” in several months or even a year or more, does not mean that your dog is safe and no longer has an aggression problem.
It usually means that you have simply been effective at keeping an incident from happening.
Dogs that suffer from aggression issues often suffer, to some degree, with those problems for a lifetime.
There is no magic cure! But, you can work on eradicating nearly all of your dog’s aggression with proper training.
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.