Rehoming An Aggressive Dog: When Is It Time To Say Goodbye?

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Kimberly and Pat with dogs Sally and Kopa under Christmas treeSaying goodbye to your dog is difficult no matter what the circumstances. In my family’s case, we had to bid farewell to one of our dogs because he was becoming more and more aggressive. This decision wasn’t made lightly, but ultimately, we knew it was best for us all.

After all, we didn’t want our dog to act on his aggression and wind up hurting someone. We thought it was best to say goodbye to him in the hopes that he finds a forever home where he feels more comfortable and less threatened.

Article Overview

Our History With An Aggressive Dog

We adopted Kopa, a 1-year-old treeing walker coonhound (TWC), in November of 2017. It was easily one of the happiest days of my husband and my life. We had been looking for a sibling for Sally, our 4-year-old TWC mix, and we felt that Kopa fit the bill perfectly.

We knew it would take time for us all to bond as a family, so we made sure to take plenty of walks, allow lots of playtime and leave some time for cuddling on the couch together as well. This is what we did with Sally when we adopted her from the shelter, and she has proven an excellent companion.

Kopa & Sally in dog bed togetherUnfortunately, bonding with Kopa was different than we planned. He began growling at my husband, Pat, for unnecessary reasons. Pat would try to cuddle Kopa, ask him to sit, or try to make room for Sally on the dog bed by moving Kopa slightly but he would react with a growl.

Pat was understandably becoming fearful of Kopa. He’s a big dog with an extremely dangerous bite. When Kopa would growl, you could see the anger in his eyes, and we felt that a bite was going to follow his growls shortly after.

Kopa & Sally’s Relationship

Kopa was never aggressive towards Sally. Sally is very much a dominant dog, and Kopa was okay with being submissive to her. She would let Kopa know when he crossed the line and he would accept that. The two of them always got along great.

What Do Trainers Advise For Aggressive Dogs?

We spoke to our dog trainer about Kopa’s behavior, and she told us that it’s because we aren’t being dominant enough and showing him that we are the alphas. (Basically, we needed to be more like Sally.) She gave us some tips on how to correct this unwanted behavior and let us borrow a muzzle to make us more comfortable during this training period.

Unfortunately, implementing these tips only seemed to escalate the situation further. We felt helpless.

The Toughest Decision We’ve Ever Faced

Kopa the dog and KimberlySince I work from home, I get to spend 24/7 with my pups. They are my coworkers and give me plenty of laughs on my trips to the “water cooler.” Their snoring and twitching always warm my heart and I love the excitement they show when quitting time comes. (They know the sound of me turning off my wireless keyboard and mouse and instantly jump for joy because they know it’s eating/playing time.)

After 3 months of loving, adoring and caring for Kopa, the aggression persisted. We decided it was best to help him find a new home. This was easily one of the hardest decisions we have ever faced. I was a complete wreck. Kopa had taken a place in my heart quicker than I thought possible.

Pat was a dog lover long before I was, and although the majority of the growling was aimed at Pat, he was just as distraught as I. Kopa has many wonderful qualities, but it’s that small percentage of unwanted, scary behavior that kept us from being able to let our guard down fully.

When we adopted Kopa from the shelter, there was a stipulation that said if for whatever reason we needed to rehome Kopa, we would bring him back to the same shelter. We agreed with this and decided that surrendering Kopa to the shelter was what was best for all of us.

Some may think that 3 months isn’t long enough to give the relationship a fair try. However, for us, we felt we had done everything we could, and things continued to get worse. We prioritized Kopa’s needs above everything else. We focused on training him and made sure he was getting enough food, exercise and sleep. Sadly, none of this seemed to matter in the end.

Why We Chose To Say Goodbye

Because Kopa’s growling was occurring more often, we felt that the responsible thing to do was to return Kopa to the shelter where we adopted him. There were a few key reasons why we felt this was the best route for Kopa and us.

We All Need To Feel Safe At Home

Pat and I believe that it’s important not to be scared of our dogs and for them to feel loved and comfortable around their family. We felt that being scared of Kopa would open the possibility of more growling or biting and ultimately give him unearned status as the pack leader, which would lead to more issues.

We also felt that we should all feel comfortable and safe at home, and clearly, we did not feel that way, nor did Kopa since he was growling. This kept us all from relaxing and enjoying the experience of being a two person, two dog family.

We were always on edge, preparing for the next growl to occur, and Kopa most likely sensed that. This was not a life we wanted for our dog or ourselves. Kopa deserved better.

Young Kids & Aggressive Dogs

Another reason we chose to say goodbye to Kopa is that we were expecting a baby in August 2018. We have many young nieces and nephews and have always felt comfortable with Sally being around them. However, with Kopa we found ourselves hovering around him when there were children around.

If innocent actions like cuddling and slightly moving Kopa to make room for Sally bring out growls in him, then what’s to say a young child stepping on his paw, pulling on his ear or startling him wouldn’t cause a more significant reaction?

We didn’t feel like this was something we could risk happening. If Kopa injured someone, we would feel entirely responsible and terrible, especially if it were a child.

We know in the future there will be times where our child will be left alone for a few seconds while we get a bottle, wash our hands or do some other task. In these instances, we would not feel safe leaving Kopa alone with them.

Hoping To Stop The Growling Before It Escalates Further

One of the biggest reasons we chose to return Kopa to the shelter is because we didn’t want him to bite someone. If he bit someone, there is potential that he would be stripped from us and euthanized.

In this instance, we’d be facing a great amount of guilt for not taking action sooner to help Kopa get better. I would personally feel guilty for his death, and that is something I couldn’t live with.

Additionally, someone could be seriously injured or we could be sued for liability. All of these risks added up to a lot more than we were prepared to manage in our home.

Just Because You Know It’s Right Doesn’t Make It Easier

I hope you are never faced with this decision. I hope that you create the kind of bond we have with Sally with every dog you bring into your home. Saying goodbye to your perfectly healthy dog is just as hard as your dog dying, in my experience.

The night we came to this difficult decision I spent hours crying. I was so disappointed that it didn’t work out. I felt like I had failed Kopa. Like I hadn’t worked hard enough to help him. We did everything we could think of to help him. We just weren’t what he needed in a family.

We Told Close Friends & Family

We chose to update our closest friends and family. We knew they’d ask about Kopa and that it’d be a difficult subject to broach. So we decided to update them via text because we were still very raw with emotion.

I think, for the most part, everyone was shocked. We hadn’t shared with anyone the issues we were facing with Kopa. In the beginning, we were hopeful that we could fix the behavior and we didn’t want our friends and family to have a tainted impression of Kopa or be fearful of him.

Our friends and family were supportive of our decision and reassured us that we were doing the right thing. It meant a lot to have their support since Pat and I felt such guilt.

Why Was Our Dog Aggressive?

We didn’t know all of Kopa’s history. We knew he was originally purchased to be a hunting dog but wasn’t catching on to it quickly enough. The owner was going to kill him, but fortunately, a neighbor stepped in and took ownership of him. That neighbor had him outside tied up to a tree and took him to the shelter because he barked too much (I’d bark too if my life was spent tied up to a tree).

Kopa seemed to be most aggressive with Pat and my brother-in-law. Nearly all of the instances where Kopa growled were when he was receiving affection. Did he have an issue with men? Did a previous owner abuse Kopa? All these thoughts crossed our minds, but in the end, we had no answers nor solutions.

How Is Kopa Today?

Kopa adoption pageWe miss Kopa every day. Fortunately, he was adopted in November 2018 after going through some training to help with his aggression. My husband and I were ecstatic to see his adoption go through and that he has found his forever home. We wish him many years of happiness with his family.

Be Proactive, Not Reactive

If you’re experiencing something similar, I encourage you to be proactive about the situation before things get worse. Growling is one thing, but biting is another. Both are unwanted behaviors, but growling can be a hint that biting could be in the near future. Here are some tips for helping your aggressive dog.

What Can You Do In A Similar Situation?

We were able to return our dog to the shelter where we originally adopted him. But, if this is not an option for you, we would suggest that you speak with a local rescue organization like ASPCA, the Humane Society or a local organization to discuss your situation and options.

Have you had to say goodbye to an aggressive dog?

About The Author:

Kimberly received her Bachelor of Arts in multimedia journalism from Simpson College. She has been writing about dogs since 2014, covering subjects such as dog insurance, training, health, accessories and more. Her natural curiosity helps her research as she seeks the truth when learning about, comparing and personally testing canine products and services. With every piece she writes, her goal is to help our readers find the best fit for their unique needs.

Kimberly grew up in a family that loved Labrador Retrievers and remembers running and playing in the yard with them as a child. In 2017, she and her husband adopted their Coonhound mix, Sally, from a local shelter. Kimberly's research was put to good use since Sally faced some aggression issues with other dogs and needed some training to be an inside dog. She worked daily with Sally and sought help from professionals to help Sally become the happy pup she is today.

One of Kimberly's favorite pastimes is spoiling Sally with new toys, comfy beds and yummy treats (she even makes homemade goodies for her). She tries to purchase the safest products for Sally and knows that each canine has their own specific likes and dislikes. Kimberly is passionate about dogs, and knows the bond between humans and canines is like no other.

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Morgan Patterson

My mom has an aggressive dog that she can no longer take care of. She would be heartbroken if she found out her dog was put down. Her dog has a fear-based aggression. We live near Reno Nevada and are looking for any suggestions as of what to do because At this point we don’t know what to do. There are no-kill shelters like the humane society but we are afraid that this dog might attack another dog or a person in the shelter. If that were to happen they would have no choice but to put the dog down.

Brittney

I have a 3 year old 40lb pittie mix. My boyfriend and I adopted him so I could have a friend considering I moved from my hometown in Ca. to his in Ga. and didn’t know anyone. We adopted him from a shelter when he was 2 months old and by the time he was 7 months old, he was diagnosed with a liver shunt. We went through with the surgery to fix it, as we were told it was on the outside of his liver. About a year or so later, he was still showing signs of the shunt and when we took him back to the original surgeon, it was explained to us that, although the blood vessel they closed off looked suspicious, it was not the vessel causing the problems. The shunt was inside his liver which meant a much riskier surgery that he may not even survive. We opted out considering we have gotten to a point of good health with a full blown shunt with a strict diet and daily medication.
Flash forward to present. Our dog has had a bit of a history with aggression. Most of it stems from fear/protection and he would just up at the door if anyone came over, completely blocking it from my boyfriend and I and would growl and bark and have a full Mohawk running down the length of his body. Within the last month, he has bitten my boyfriend 3 time. In the time we have had him, I have been bitten twice (blood drawn and permanent scarring), and he attacked my foot one day while I was trying to move his treat ball (luckily I was wearing boots so there was no damage) and he has gotten my boyfriend four times, each time drawing blood and doing damage.
I have been fighting for my dog, putting him through training, working with him, talking my boyfriend down from getting rid of him or putting him down, but I know we can’t live like this. It’s always a matter of when he will bite again, not if. I don’t want to let him go considering he is a ‘special needs’ dog due to his health situation not to mention he’s an aggressive pit mix. But we’ve run out of options. I’ve spoken with our trainer about doing more work with his aggression, but I know my boyfriend doesn’t want to put any more money into him if he’s just going to continue attacking us. I’m heart broken, but I know the more we hold on to him, the more likely he will become a liability to our friends, family, and neighbors. :'(

Apiffany Gaither Billings (Admin)

Here is an article regarding training an aggressive dog. Sometime aggression has an underlying issue. Good luck and let us know if you have any other questions.

Hope

I’m so sorry Heartbreaking situation

Meg

Keep the words “big lawsuit” in the back of your mind. You’ve done more for this poor dog than most people would have.

Cara Hearon

Two weeks ago I have my sons dog away to a new home. He was getting more aggressive and actually bit my husband. I have not found a way to forgive myself. We spent two years alone while my husband worked out of town. His aggression was at my husband . He was very protective over me. And food. Unfortunately the people that took him told me I could come see him. As of date I only get reasons why I can’t go see him. My heart is broken

Lori

We are at our wits end. We adopted a rescue puppy. He is only about 4 months old and we’ve had him for a month and a half. He is the sweetest little guy but of course, there’s a problem. He bites. He’s almost like a child who plays rough and gets out of control and bites. We did have him in training but everything has been called off because of the CoronaVirus. The trainer loved him. He learned quickly and was soon the dog the trainer used to show others what to do. He is very, very sweet MOST of the time but when he bites, it hurts. We take him to doggy daycare one day a week, which is great for him. We really can’t afford more than one day. From the get-go we’ve let him sleep with us. We have no idea what his past is like but of course, we suspect his start in life was less than stellar. One night we was sleeping almost like he was in a zone. He was chewing on something while sleeping and it was keeping us awake. My husband went over to take the chewy away and the dog went junk yard dog on my husband. I was scared and so was my husband. He got bit. It was almost like the dog was in survival mode. In fairness to him, it was dark and I think he was startled. Then it was like he realized it was us and he snapped out of it. We are constantly saying “one more time” but the truth of the matter is we’re torn. We have an extended family situation at our home that includes an 8 year old grandson. We aren’t sure what to do. We’ve all grown to love the pup but it’s like …. what if. We don’t know how to deal with the biting. I don’t really think he’s getting enough exercise. We all work and live in a place that gets dark early. Tonight we are supposed to have a family talk to discuss the dog’s future with us. I don’t want to get rid of him. I feel so sorry for him. But on the other hand, I’m afraid of “the next time.” Thoughts, ideas for the biting. We’ve tried showing him who is the alpha but it really hasn’t worked for us.

Apiffany Gaither Billings (Admin)

Hi, I know some trainers are offering virtual dog training due to recent circumstances. That may be an option. We also have an article that may help.

Meg

Have you ever had a dog before? This is a 4 month old puppy. They are mouthy and they like to chew on things. Have you supplied him with chew toys (bully sticks or Himalayan chews) And yes, you startled him out of his sleep, and no, you don’t take food or a chew toy away from a dog who is chewing on it. Do this puppy a favor and return it to where you got him from so he can be adopted by experienced dog owners.

Michelle Cory

Kikberly , what kind of dream world are you living in, I don’t knowof a know kill shelter that does rehab if you return the dog, The aspca, dosent take indiv,iduals dogs, I didn’t have any alternative but eauthanization

Lisa

Hi I rescued a dog that was going to be euthanized He is a Pitbull but wasn’t told that he is deaf That’s ok though we started working on hand signals He was ok but startled easy he was really bonded to me Then one night I went to get off the couch and he was at my feet I bent down and he bit me just below my eye I didn’t give up thought Startled him wasn’t his fault He continued to be stuck to my side We then rescued another Pitbull they get along but both are jealous of affection I give to each one He deaf boy Mack is starting to really get aggressive with the other boy now. He has been so loving I thought I really was making progress Tonite I was petting and he snapped lucky my face was not close I’m
At a loss I thought he was so good had come so far and was so loving I’m
Devastated not sure what to do now.. I’m afraid of him and I never was I felt he looked at me as the Alpha abd souls submit But now I’m scared of him
He would fo severe damage to me and any other living thing..Nobody will take an aggressive deaf large Pitbull .. I can’t bear to think of where he will go

Apiffany Gaither Billings (Admin)

Hi Lisa, I am sorry to hear that you are going through that. Have you looked into training for Mack? Here is an article regarding aggression training that explains tips and potential reasons.

Cecilia

We purchased a havanese/shitzu mix several years ago. His name is Oreo, and he is my 13-year-old daughter’s dog. He has become more and more aggressive, biting me several times. We have another dog, an older chocolate lab, and they cannot be in the same room. We have no idea why Oreo has started biting growling and lunging at us and our other dog.He growls and lunges at us daily. I have three children, the youngest being 4. I cannot trust Oreo, especially not with my youngest. IF anybody knows of shelters taking aggressive dogs in the Los Angeles area, it would be greatly appreciated. We have decided it is best for our family to rehome him.

Apiffany Gaither Billings (Admin)

Sorry to hear what you’re going through with Oreo and having to make the difficult decision. Perhaps search for rescues within Los Angeles who train and rehabilitate aggressive dogs.

Meg

Before rehoming or giving up to a shelter, I would have a very thorough examination done to rule out any physical illness that might be behind this change in personality.

Lisa

My fiancé adopted a pit bull, Blitz 3 years ago. He was previously abused by past owners as he has cigarette burns on his legs. His aggressiveness became real once I moved in with him a year ago with my two dachshunds. We introduced him to them before and they got along. But later on I noticed he would bite the dogs if they got near his food bowl. Which we both now noticed he was territorial aggressive. But his aggressiveness escalated over the time I stayed. We can’t even give him toys because of how much he would growl and become aggressive toward my other dogs. He would growl showing teeth if you touch his ears or paws. We had to stay at my family’s house for awhile. He does not like children, he growls at them and while my 4 year old niece was getting ice cream he bit her on her leg. He left teeth marks and a bruise but did not break the skin. She was severely bruised. Apparently he bit our neighbor a young boy way back which I didn’t learn of till until he bit my niece. His attacks toward my dogs also increased to them walking by his dog bed. It’s gotten way out of hand when my fiancé laid beside him recently, bothering him because Blitz started growling at my fiancé while he was petting him all over. He bit him on the hand and he had to get stitches. We don’t have the money nor the time to train and hire a trainer. My fiancé is in complete denial and does not want to get rid of him. Only when he bites my dogs for that one day wants to get rid of him but then the next day acts like nothing ever happened. Blitz recently bit my dog (nothing new) and I finally had it and completely laid down the line of wanting to take him back to the shelter. Hopefully this time my fiancé will finally come to his senses, as I hope during those many times he bites. I can only hope as Blitz is becoming a strain to our relationship and I want to have children in the future, but with this dog I am completely sure my child will end up dying at a young age.

Desiree

Thank you for your article. I googled “adopted dog aggressive” and it popped up. We recently adopted a 2 year old Boston Terrier and he is the sweetest most gentle little guy but 3 times (most recently just now) he has aggressively attacked to kill other dogs. Im heartbroken, my family is devastated… but we have to give him back to the shelter. We have been working with him consistently for a month and we are at a loss. I can’t stand the thought of him hurting another dog. I don’t know what his last family put him through, can animals just be born like this? Was he hurt as a puppy? We tried our hardest and we love him so much, but he isn’t safe and hes a liability.

Thank you guys for all your stories, it helps to read and learn so we don’t feel so alone in this terrible decision.

Meg

You said you’ve been working with him. Does that mean in an obedience class? If not, that would be the first place to start. Also, there is such a thing as leash aggression. Does he do this while on leash? If so, that’s one of the behaviors that is worked on in obedience class. It’s worth looking into.

Kelly

This is literally my exact situation & I don’t know what to do. I am so heartbroken & have been balling the whole time while reading this. I couldn’t bear to think if she didn’t make it to another family who will love her. Cleo has been my best friend since I’ve had her… but I can’t have her biting me or anyone else. She made me bleed today… I’m so sad. She’s so sweet & smart, but I feel like I’ve tried everything. I want to give her another chance, but I have to fix it soon because I can’t keep living like this.
If anyone knows of any good options in Denver area, let me know…

Meg

What triggers the bites?

Erika

I agree with everything you said in this post except for the fact where you said if the kid pulls their ear or tail you wouldn’t know what would happen. Well first of all, kids should be taught how to approach a dog. To let the dog smell the hand first and make sure the dog agrees to being pet. People wonder why their kids get bit but I’m sure you wouldn’t like it if someone pulled your hair or arm would you?

Wiggy

The problem I’m having is I am being sued by someone my rescue dog bit, and as a result have lost my insurance coverage. Which means I risk my entire life savings were my dog to bite again and I were sued. I have been working with a trainer and took him to the vet. I am a wreck about that as how do I spend 100% of time with my dog? No daycare? No boarding? No one can walk him. It’s a nightmare

Meg

How long have you had this dog? Does your trainer say that your dog can be helped? If you have adopted this dog a relatively short time ago, return it. Living the way you are living (basically hostage to a hostile dog), is a terrible way to live.

Maria

I am currently struggling with what to do with my 2 year old lab/chow mix. We adopted him from the local shelter about six weeks ago and told he needed work on his manners and was obviously a very energetic dog, given his age. We worked on setting a schedule for meals, walks and play times and with the four of us living in the household, he has been fine. The issue has become anyone who comes in the household or even anyone he encounters while out on his walks. He becomes extremely aggressive, barking and trying to lunge at the person. He nipped at someone visiting my home (luckily he only got their coat) but yesterday he actually made contact with someone while out on his walk who was trying to pet him. The person ended up needing several stitches and my husband is wanting to take the dog back to the shelter because he is concerned with the potential liability issues moving forward if we were to continue to keep him. I want to believe that the dogs behavior could be adjusted but my husband is unwilling/afraid to take the chance. I feel extremely guilty about taking this dog back because I want to believe that overtime and with work his aggression could be dealt with but my husband thinks as keeping him is playing with fire.

Meg

I’m not seeing anywhere in your post about obedience/training classes. Maybe your husband would agree to that. If that doesn’t work, then I would consider taking him back from where you adopted him before legal liability becomes a reality. No one, by the way, should approach a dog they are not familiar with to pet it.

Erika

With dogs and being pet around strangers. Have the stranger stop and have the dog approach the stranger. If the dog smells the person and seems interested then that person can reach down to have the dog sniff their hand. With aggressive dogs try asking the person to stand where they are before you take your dog to approach them with their palms open and down to their sides. It’s a sign of I come in no harm and you can see that I have nothing in my hands and I don’t plan to hurt you.
Dogs have a bubble like us humans do. If you are worried about strangers getting bit. Try to see if the dog is even interested. Have the person stop and the dog approach the person if the dog wants to. Then the dog interprets it as I’m going to you. Not you are overstepping and coming into my space.

Susie

Some of these stories are so sad, but what i find unbelievable is that hardly anyone is mentioning getting help for their dogs. At the first sign of aggression get a vet check, swiftly followed by a qualified behaviourist. And by this i don’t mean one who will advise you to be more dominant as in the original post. Trying to dominate a dog with fear aggression is only going to make the situation worse. Please guys instead of posting on forums get out there and get some help. Some of these issues are for things like resource guarding which can be resolved with a lot of time, effort and professional help but it can be done. Don’t just give up and rehome them. And the admin should not be recommending rehoming (which could result in euthanasia) just by reading a few paragraphs!! I’m not saying re-homing is never necessary, in some cases it is but please give your dog a chance GET PROFESSIONAL HELP!!!

Karrie

Need advice (heck …. or a counselor) on possible rehoming scenerio bc we now have a 7 mo old.

We have had my lab mix For 6 years and she is about 7(45-50lbs prob 50%lab , 50%collie and pit mix ) . She has been our baby! We have family pictures with her over the years and have been obsessed although she’s challenging with strangers. She was found on the streets and already had puppies by 9 months! She was going to be put down bc when the vet tried giving shots she showed aggression . (Who wouldn’t ) someone fostered her and we adopted her. We were drawn to her because of temperament actually. Super sweet ,calm around Us and affectionate and trained .

She was super cuddly even to strangers and for the first 6 mo there were no issues. The week my roommate moved out and we moved her (our bed) to roommates room , she snapped at a friend who reached down to pet her . And ever since then didn’t like people entering the home. She also snapped at my husband a year or 2 later when he accidentally dropped her . She has fearful aggression . We couldn’t let anyone in the house unless she was put away

Sent her to k-9 academy which was supposed to be 2-3 weeks but it turned into 10 weeks. He said in the 20 years , she’s the most challenging because she’s the most highly anxious dog He’s ever had but she’s also one of the most affectionate dogs once she earns your trust . He’s had more aggressive dogs but he just knows she so anxious about everything.

We try to use positive reinforcement and can train a person who might be around her a lot .. by using hot dogs to break the negative association. Otherwise if we didn’t do that , we wouldn’t put it past her to bite someone coming in the house.

Surprisingly a few people have come in our backyard and didn’t get bit . She charged but they firmly said go inside and she did lol . Another handy man was in the house when she accidentally got loose and she tried threatening him by charging but ended up only nipping even though she had all the opportunity to do more harm.

We have had 2 roommates since who we were able to be around her after training them but we always say don’t pet. So no one ever pets her bc it’s not worth the risk in trying. So after training khloe with treats with the roommate and commands she builds trust and they can do exist with out touching her.

Fast forward to last feb when I was 6 mo pregnant . One morning khloe was laying her head on my lap and husband came up to her face as he did a lot and khloe would do a light growl and he would a lot of times remain in her face.(stupid of husband) Well this time , no warning , she just went for it and blood all over . Thought he needed stitches but didn’t . he has a permanant scar now.

From that point on , my trust for khloe and baby frightened me and I would never ever feel comfortable having baby and khloe Co exist in same rooms unless leashed. For now I can pretty much contain my almost 8 month old. I think about the what if’s like he gets out in the middle of the night and gets curious about khloe our dog. I read stories online that terrify me . And a bite to a smaller face can cause tremendous impact forever . And if she gets the neck , bleed out. The bite she did on my husband would be significant on a smaller face . She actually latched for a second. This might sound extreme but I think of the what’s if but maybe I shouldn’t since it’s the most extreme case and she hasn’t done that. It very well could be fine forever and we can separate them indefitnaflu and have a lock on her indoor gate. Not sure If that’s a good idea or not .

I will add that khloe is extremely content on her own and is very low maintenance besides the fearful and Territorial aggression . After baby goes to bed , we let khloe roam and give her attention . After about 2 minutes of attention she prefers her own space anyways .

So that’s been the scenario, I have had dog seperate by gates In the house . Dog gets front den . We also did this when we had a roommates dog in the house. Khloe wasn’t a huge fan of the dog when he would get hyper. Now baby is 8 mo and crawling and I see khloe gets a little anxious especially when Baby is loud or on the jumper …

sure we can keep her separate forever like my husband wants . And we can even have a gate that is securely locked and can’t be open without a code . My concern is the accident . I have and my husband has left gate open on accident once or twice before .. we are extremely careful but I worry about the what if something happens . And there is no way I’m going to test the scenarios .

Her bite would be way Different than a smaller dogs bite .

What should I do? I have spent many days crying over the matter over the last year ever since the bite and heartbroken and confused and nervous .

I’m always super proactive so I don’t want to over react either but also never want to regret something too Either direction …

Help!

Courtney doedge

My dog has a bite history. She is the first dog I’ve owned as an adult. Management and realistic expectations are far more realistic and reasonable than the preaching and praising on this site which encourages rehoming problem dogs. Dumping a dog you thought was so sweet and loving towards you onto another unsuspecting owner is cruel to both the dog and owner.

Julia

We adopted a one year old from a shelter almost a year ago. She is such a loving dog and she’s really bonded with the whole family. However, she has bitten us multiple times seemly out of nowhere. Some were easily treatable but two required medical attention. It is very clear that she has a history of abuse from some of her other behaviors. She shows remorse after she bites or shows any aggression and we know she doesn’t want to hurt us. She gets triggered and she freaks out and reacts by biting. We really don’t want to put her down because we love her so much and it doesn’t feel fair because she is such a good dog otherwise. But she’s completely unpredictable and we can’t feel safe with her. Her last bite was on my mother’s chin and required multiple stitches, so now it’s evident we can’t keep her but don’t know what to do. We really don’t want to put her down, but I don’t know if any place would take her with her biting history and I’m afraid her behavior could get worse when she’s separated from us and don’t want her to hurt anyone else. I’m completely heartbroken.

Jessica Hauk

Thank you for this post. I found it this morning, as we are getting ready to re-home our extremely food aggressive golden retriever puppy this afternoon. He is aggressive towards the other dogs in the house, and has been in several blood drawing fights in the last two weeks. It is the hardest thing I’ve done, besides putting down a dog. I feel all of the emotions and words you’ve written, and knowing I have two small children in the house, I could not bear to let this go any further and endanger them any longer. I’ve found some comfort through reading this, not feeling so alone in this decision and realizing it isn’t the wrong one. Thank you again.

Chelsea

We are in the midst of trying to figure out how to rehome our rescue pup who has dangerous food aggression and reactions to any discomfort. He has bitten 4 people, 8 or so total notable bites, 3 requiring medical attention, 1 that should have. We are scared to give him back to the rescue group we got him from because they were extremely dismissive when he seriously bit my boyfriend the second night we had him over a bone we’d given him. It took both of us covering the dog with a blanket and holding him down to get him to stop biting. Two of his 8 total notable bites were full attacks. We had a trainer bit he seemed to get worse with her methods, and since then others have turned us away when we are honest about his biting. A friend who knows him well was watching him while we were out of town and walked behind him while he was eating. The dog turned and lunged at him, throwing him into a wall and biting his arm several times. He also bit the back of his leg, then latched onto his other arm, then hand, before our friend was able to push his fist into the dogs mouth and get away (16 total stitches). I understand that food aggression and resource guarding are “treatable”, but he has also bitten in other situations; very minor paw scrape my boyfriend accidentally touched lead to his thumb/hand being severely bitten (8 stitches), over a toy he bit my roommate, knocked her to the ground, then bit her other foot and didnt let go (2 stitches). He’s just so unpredictable but we love him and don’t want him to die. The rescue we got him from required us to sign saying we would return him to them, but again we don’t trust them not to dismiss what we tell them and other people to get hurt. Can anyone please help us decide what to do? Two of his attacks could have killed a child. He is am 85lb husky/rottweiler/?? Maybe Shepard. He is powerful, but has a wonderful personality that makes people trust him. People act like we must be lying, exaggerating, or abusing him. We don’t know what to do. We are constantly afraid he will hurt someone. He is almost always in a muzzle now, but we cannot devote our lives to keeping people safe from him. Please if anyone knows about a rescue for truly dangerous dogs please reply.

Meg

Is the dog’s name Liability? It should be, because at some point you’re going to be sued. There is something very wrong with this dog. Bring him back to the rescue where you adopted him, so it can become their problem. What a terrible way to live.

Chelsea

We are trying to get the rescue to take him back, but with the caveat that they prove to us that they’ve been honest (including pictures of bites) with anyone who decides to take him. If they cannot, we are putting him down. And to the first lines of your message; try to remember that people on the internet are actual humans, likely suffering if they are posting things like this, so cute, snide remarks are probably not constructive or appreciated.

Melissa Ruggiero

We have a three year old Rottweiler named Leo. With our kids, he’s always been gentle and patient.
About 1.5 years in, started getting super nervous at how he would ‘herd’ or ‘track’ my son (who was seven at the time) when he was running around in our backyard. Our son would climb to the top of his play house to get away from him when he was acting this way.
Around this time as well, I had three separate incidents in which Leo growled at people who came into our home. the first time I was rather shocked. My friend who owns dogs and loves rotties attempted to pet him and Leo growled at her viciously. I thought wow! Not cool!
my husband and I started kicking around the idea that it was time to get him neutered, even though the breeder had said wait. We thought that this would help with his increasingly grouchy and aggressive behavior. We did indeed have him neutered.
The veterinary staff was very uncomfortable around him, insisting that we give him trazodone before his visits. My husband kept trying to defend him, saying, “well he’s just defending our house which is what he is supposed to do”
When he turned two, my adult daughter came over to visit for the holidays and every single time she entered the room he would growl at her. I corrected him, my husband corrected him, nothing worked… He still for whatever reason acted this way toward her.
I upped his exercise level taking him to the state parks near me and running with him on a leash. At one point I stopped and had a conversation with a lovely 80 year old woman who raises Rottweilers. 5 minutes into the conversation, Leo began growling at her. For no reason.
About three weeks ago, my son who is now 9 had a friend over to play. They walked in the back door and my son said hey this is my dog Leo and patted him on the head. His little friend said I have big dogs too! In a cheerful voice and reached over the baby gate to Pat Leo on the head. Leo snarled and snapped, ripping open the back of the child’s hand. I had to take him to the emergency room where he got stitches.
I feel so devastated. Obviously he’s not the gentle and warm family dog that we have been hoping for. We have invested tons of time and money into him and the children are attached. But I don’t see how we can continue on this way.
my husband has been a little bit in denial and keep makes making excuses for his behavior, but honestly I want him to be rehomed. I’m not comfortable having ANY of my friends are family anywhere near him.
It makes me sad and uncomfortable. I don’t want to be isolated because of the dog.

Gary Smith

Hi, I had to euthanize my female lab mix (Cali) about a month ago. She was 40 1/2 years old, a rescue we had since he was a pup and the companion dog to our 10 year old Goldendoodle, CeZar. For most of their time together they got along as best friends, playing together and never showing any sign of aggression. They had one fight about a year ago when I accidentally dropped a piece meat on the floor between them. Then, about six months ago they got into another while playing, this more serious than the other. About a couple of months ago, Cali became more aggressive toward CeZar apparently for no reason. The attacks became increasingly more intense and wer unprovoked. We thought Cali may have had a health problem but had that theory checked out. Cali has never had a problem with human beings, always calm and lovable. She had no real problems with other dogs and, though she never warmed up to them, she tolerated them well. Cali and CeZar often slept side by side and were very affectionate towards each other.

The attacks were always followed, within seconds, of Cali showing great affection towards CeZar. In humans I would take it as a sign of an apology and remorse. But the attacks grew more frequent and more intense. The last one occurred as Cali and CeZar were sitting side by side without any sign of tension. Suddenly Cali turned on CeZar and they fought. It was not nip nor a bite, it was an attack that lasted for around a minute and a half and left CeZar with a hunk of his shoulder ripped open and bleeding.

We had no alternative but to euthanize Cali. In studying the aggression, it seems that Cali had what is called “idiopathic” or “Dalmatian” aggression. Some normally non aggressive dogs, usually between 2-4 years old gradually, for no reason, become aggressive. The aggression becomes more intense over time and is untreatable. There is no known cause, is a medical condition, not a behavioral one. One theory is that it is a type of epilepsy in dogs. Another is that it is a residual symptom of distemper. Cali was examined for distemper as a pup. The prognosis is dire.

Sometimes it is necessary to do the thing that tears your heart out. You can chalk it up to fate or whatever, but when there is no other choice, we must do what is necessary not just for ourselves, but for the creatures that we love. Unfortunately, doing the right thing often doesn’t make it any less painful. As pet owners and animal lovers it is a requirement that we sometimes overlook our own desire and do the necessary thing.

Nawal Hammoud

Hello. On October 15, 2019 just 2 days before my birthday my beautiful chow chow Jax went full on attack mode on me for no reason. Please understand, I LOVED this dog more than I will ever be able to explain. He was never ever abused, walked daily even in the cold which I hate. Jax would of been 4 on November 30 and even while writing this my tears are flowing. We got Jax at 8 weeks old, he was easy to train and a great guard dog. BUT, he did not like people. As a puppy he was ok with people but after 2 years old no one could come in our house without us having to escort them in or putting Jax in a different room. And it got worse. A year ago Jax bit my husband who accidentally hit him on the bridge of the nose while putting his bowl of food and water on his place mat, after accidentally hitting him my husband reached out to say sorry and Jax bit his hand requiring 6 stitches. Of corse my husband was upset and some people said once a dog bites its owner you shouldn’t keep it anymore. Well no one was going to take my Jax away, no one. I blamed my husband for reaching out to pet him ( I didn’t wasn’t about to believe my dog bit on purpose ) and it all blew over and they were fine. About 3 weeks before Jax attacked me he was laying down and gave a stretchie, my son ( 21 years old ) was walking past him and sat down by him to pet him, Jax was fine with it and a couple minutes later I hear my son yelling, I went running to see what was wrong and Jax had my son cornered in a hallway growling and showing teeth, I got in between them but the damage was already done, Jax bit my son on back of the forearm, and left a puncture wound. My son said he did not provoke Jax he was just petting him and Jax raised his head and snipped at him, my son said he got up to walk away and he Jax got up and filled him growling and tried lunging at him. From that day my husband told me of Jax bites anyone else we will have to put him down, again I said no, never. Again I tried blaming my son for bothering Jax while laying down ( any excuse I could find to save my furbaby ). My son told me we have to put him down or he’s moving out, yes he was nervous being around Jax and again I refused to “get rid of him” ( I despise that phrase ). After a week or so, my son got over it but not completely but things were “ok.” One day I told my husband I have a gut feeling the next person Jax bites will be me and it’s gonna be worse than his and my sons put together and it happened. That morning I was getting ready for work, I went outside to grab something from my car and came back in to see Jax waiting for me at the door wagging his tail. I kneeled down besides him put my cheek to his cheek hugging him and told him mommy will get you your treat in a minute just let me finish getting ready, in the split second I stood up he attacked me, he bit my shoulder first, landed on the ground and grabbed my arm, he dragged me about 15 feet from the front of the door to the living room and the whole time I’m telling him Jax let go, Jax it’s mommy let go. He didn’t let go. I didn’t want to scream for help cause I thought if he let go I could bandage my self up or go to the hospital myself but I didn’t know my wounds were that bad and I knew we’d have to put him down had my husband found out. I tried, I really tried taking the pain hoping he’d let go. Then Jax started the death shake and I felt his teeth separate my bones, the pain was unbearable, that’s when I screamed for my son that was sleeping, Jax had me on the ground in a sit up position and I was trying to kick him to let go, after my second or third scream my son came out running stepping in my blood which was all over the floor with his gun in his hand ( registered of course ) I didn’t see the gun at first and screamed for my son not to go near Jax for fear that Jax would attack him and how could I possibly help him with a mangled arm. I remember my son telling me not to move and then he shot him, and when he did a huge piece of me died also. I didn’t care about my arm at that moment I wanted to rush Jax to the hospital but then I started getting dizzy and lightheaded. I know he had no choice, I know 100% had my son not been home my baby that I loved so so much would of killed me, My son freaked out with all the blood that I was losing and rushed me to the hospital. I had over 20 bites and 2 of them tore right through the muscle on my forearm and back forearm. I received 15 stitches and it will take 6-8 months for my arm to heal but he also damaged my shoulder socket with the death shake. My arm looks like it was in the mouth of jaws with all the scars. I’m not mad at Jax, and feel not hatred towards him at all. I’m just devastated that he’s not here. I was his favorite, he wouldn’t let anyone near me, if my husband tried to hug me Jax would bark and growl ( playfully ) and get in between us. I still do not have closure as to why, the vet said he may have had a tumor or that rage aggression syndrome and that I am lucky to be alive as did the doctors and nurses in the hospital. I’m told I have PTSD now and should see someone. Jax was my first dog ever. He showed me that I was capable of loving more than I ever thought I could and now he’s gone. I’ve cried everyday since and I wish I could come to terms with it but I can’t and don’t know how to. No one gets a dog with the thought that one day it will turn on it’s owners but I’ve been hearing and reading about it so much now. I now realize I could of jeopardized my family or anyone else had he let go of me and I hid my wounds because the fact of putting him down was NEVER going to be an option for me. I really think and some might think I’m crazy but I think it happened this way for a reason. I had no choice in his passing and God knows there’s no way I could hand him over to be put down. It’s hard. In every aspect it’s very very hard. I / we wouldn’t of been able to live normally with Jax had we kept him after his attack on me and that would not of been fair to him or us. I just thank God we do not have any small children ad that it was me instead of my son or anyone else. Sorry this was so long, I live it everyday.

Arlene

Please help me. This is happening in my household. There is an agressive german shepherd in the house who has already bit my brother twice and my mom too. Each time it gets worse. My brother and father make excuses for the dog and always place the blame on a person rather than the dog. Neither of them want to get rid of her. I have a gut feeling she is going to bite someone real bad possibly my mother who is ill and frail. I fear for her life every day and theirs. What can I do to convince them this dog can lead to one of their deaths when they won’t see reason?

Rachel

We just adopted a dog a week ago who had been returned previously due to not being given enough attention and too much play biting (so we were told). Those things me and my fiance could handle. She seemed to be doing great for the week and we were handling her play biting just fine. I took her for her walk last night when she turned on me and full on attacked. She started lunging at my chest, stomach and neck. I have some nasty bruises and some lacerations but thankfully I had thick clothes on and defended with my arms or else I would have had chunks ripped off of my body. She bit me about 10-20 times. I am now terrified of her and we have to return her. I can’t risk getting attacked like that again. I grew up with dogs and have taken care of many others and have NEVER been attacked like that before, and it was definitely not play biting. I am just so grateful that that attack was not directed at a child or anybody else.

Doris

We got (Peter) Parker about 5 years ago when he was just a puppy. He is part Shepherd and part Wiemeriner (spelling). Since I knew he would grow to be a large dog, I immediately signed up for doggie obedience classes. Everything went well. He is extremely good with other dogs. At the approach of other dogs, he immediately sits and allows them to approach him. He is not the same way with people, especially Children and men. I thought maybe because he lives with just my teenage daughter and myself. Usually, he would just bark, then warm up to people. Lately, he is more protective. Recently, my brothers came to my house and just walked in. Parker charged after them full speed, barking. I quickly tried to stop him from going after them, which caused me to get 10 stitches, and 3 pins in my thumb, and a cast! I couldn’t believe he bit me with such intensity. I know the bite was not aimed at me. Thankfully, I prevented him from biting my brother ( who did also receive a minor bite in the leg. I love Parker with all my heart. Currently, he is lying by my side. But I fear he will hurt someone. I mentioned to my daughter that I think we have to surrender him, and it is a hard conversation. We are so afraid that he will be put down if we surrender him. I honestly don’t know what to do.

Bella

I’ve been reading these posts and I’m grateful to hear about people in a similar situation to me. We adopted a six month old hound mix from the local shelter just over a year ago. Within the first couple of months it was clear she suffered fear aggression, diagnosed by the vet. We’ve worked with her trying to get her to trust people outside the family, but nothing has stuck. She’s as fearful as the day we got her. Now we need to move abroad and think rehoming her in the US is the best thing for her. However the fear aggression is a real thing and we can’t get support. The shelter we got her from assessed her today and refused to take her back if needed. She wouldn’t let them near her. The foster shelters are reluctant too. I absolutely do not know what the solution is. We will see the vet tomorrow about medication and maybe we can suppress the fear and bring out for everyone the relaxed dog we have at home. She’s a great companion and it breaks my heart that maybe we can’t rehome her. Does anyone have experience with easing fear aggression?

Meg

To learn what’s really going on with her, taking her to a certified behaviorist would be a good start. And when you say she’s fear aggressive, what does that mean? Does she lunge, snarl and snap? Has she bitten anyone? Or, she starts barking uncontrollably?