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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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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
Hi. I’m so sorry about everyone who has to rehome their dogs. My dog has since passed away, but I got her from a rescue when she was a year old. She was definitely leash-aggressive, snarling, lunging, barking and baring her teeth. I would point my finger at her, and she usually stopped barking, but she definitely had to be harness-restrained. She didn’t seem to like men either, but since I wasn’t living with a man, it worked for us. The vet found a bullet lodged inside her thigh (she was a hunting dog), so maybe her owner had hurt her once. She had a strong startle response to loud sounds, propelling herself about three feet in the air.
I don’t know, but my leash-aggressive dog seemed easier to handle than an all-around aggressive dog. I wonder if those dogs just aggressive to other dogs are more easier to train?
Maria M
I adopted a 1 year old dog from a local shelter because he got along well with my alpha GSD female. He was very aggressive, allowing neither my walker nor sitter to approach his crate despite my presence, nipping at passers-by without provocation or warning. This after intensive 1-on-1 training. I returned him to the shelter after a couple of months and remained with him until he was euthanized. Dogs as we know them are human creations and are meant for human companionship; if you believe otherwise you wouldn’t have a problem with feral dog packs. Dogs that are aggressive to human, canine individuals in a pack should not be accepted as they would not be in the wild. They would have to learn to fend for themselves. If an individual dog is unable to fulfill the companion role satisfactorily, then limited resources should be directed to those who could. Shifting an aggressive dog to another placement puts many others at risk; just accept that certain characteristics, e.g. the inability to get along with others, are not compatible with life. Add to that the very real financial liability – would you be willing to lose your home for this dog?
Matthew V
Oh my goodness. We just rescued a dog 2 days ago. We have a shih Tzu and a black lab. The new dog growls and lunges at the Shih Tzu. He isn’t like that with us. We have a 5 year old and 1 year old. He’s just mainly aggressive with the Shih Tzu. Is this s sign he’s not a good fit for us and we need to return him? We really need your guidance and opinion on this matter. We are not experienced enough with this. Do we need to give him more time to adjust? He follows my Shih Tzu and watches him amd at times lunges at him. Thanks in advance!
Michelle Schenker (Admin)
So sorry to hear this Matthew. We would recommend that you contact a local dog behavior specialist, trainer or vet asap to get a second opinion and see if there is anyway to change the behavior before you make any quick decisions. Remember that the new dog is still getting used to its new family and home but you also need to respect the needs of your Shih Tzu. An expert can help you think through this and come up with a plan to determine the next steps. We wish you all the best.
Grifter T Wolf
My husband and I are going through a similar problem. Our dog Max is just about 1 year old and over the course of the year he’s gotten more and more aggressive, first to strangers, then to our vet and now to our other two dogs who are very calm and quiet in nature normally. He bit me by accident while fighting with one of them and our vet had prescribed a drug to help calm him which occasionally slips. He’s a German Shepherd/Pitbull mix and is the complete sweetest thing usually but it’s just something we can’t subject our dogs to, we don’t want to come home one day to find out they had a tussle and it turned horribly wrong. We’re at our wits end, we don’t think euthanasia is the answer, he’s still young and I think he can get better through more rigorous training. I’m not sure if there are any contacts to places to possibly rehome him in CO though I would think if he had a place that didn’t have kids or other dogs about he may still grow up to be a good dog. Are there any suggestions, anything we can do? He was only 8 weeks old when we got him, it’s not an aggressive home life at all.
My mom recently found a stray puppy over the summer and we grew to love her so much. We had introduced her to my sisters dog, she didn’t really bother with the puppy and the puppy never went up to her willingly. My sisters dog is s German Shepherd mix with a Lab, this puppy was around 6 months old, so tiny still. My sisters dog used to try to play with her but the puppy would run away. Today, out of nowhere my sister dog bit her and killed her. We’re all devastated….we don’t know what to do. My sisters dog has never bitten us, and we can easily take something like a toy or food away from her without the fear of her bitting us. She barks at dogs that come up to the fence but she ignores them whenever she’s on a walk or at the park. This puppy had stolen our hearts, I’m literally crying right now, my mom and I are so angry right now but I don’t know if I should tell my sister to surrender her dog or what.
I found my dog roaming the streets just 2 months ago. It was around 2 am when I was finally able to get him in the backseat of my car. He had no collar so I took him to Animal Control where they told me he had no microchip either. After 4 days I was able to adopt him and that handsome underweight street-dog became mine! My girlfriend and I named him Banjo. I’ll start off by saying Banjo is a sweetheart with a lot of energy. He loves to be pet and lick and play. The first few days were strange. He bit me on the finger once and I chalked it up to his confusion of the situation. A few days later when my friend started petting him while he was sleeping and he bit her -I chalked it up to him being territorial and defending his sleeping area. These were quick bites like he was just letting you know he didn’t like what was happening. Last weekend he full-on attacked my girlfriend. He bit her several times on her legs and I had to take her to the ER. While my girlfriend and I both love him very much, I am looking in to options for rehoming him. I relate to feeling like I’ve failed him. Having said that, even though I may not be his forever home, I was able to get him off the street, feed him, love him, get him the medication he needed to cure his heart worms and give him a second chance. Since the first time I saw him, I’ve always had his best interest in mind.
Unfortunately, I’m thinking he was probably dumped due to a history of biting. How sad for the dog and for you, who clearly wants/wanted to give him a good home. If your girlfriend was bitten so badly that she ended up in the ER, Banjo is a liability – don’t feel bad about rehoming him, but his problem needs to be disclosed. You might consider speaking to a behaviorist first.
I adopted my 14.5 year old dog, Kaya, last year, I’ve had here for 1.5 years. I was told that she didn’t like her feet touched and so I didn’t touch her feet at all. I wasn’t told she was a pain biter. I had never heard of that term until recently and it made me realize that is what Kaya is. I was unable to cuddle or hug her without her attempting to nip at me or growl from the very start but thought it was just because I’m new to her. She doesn’t like being held too tight or too long (being confined) or she will attempt to bite/nip. I almost got it in the face once so just backed off getting too close to her. Now after 1.5 years she is more cuddly, but on her time. She was pretty healthy when I got her but recently she was diagnosed with glaucoma in her left eye (though I think her right eye is almost there too). I am unable to administer the eye drops as she will nip or growl at me. I’ve tried tricks but after the first try I might make it but then she knows she’s being tricked and won’t even come close to me. She really can’t see well at all right now and she doesn’t seem to hear well either. It’s like all of her senses have diminished. What I don’t know if it is from her eye problems or just her age and perhaps getting dog dementia as she does seem confused sometimes when she’s just pacing around the house. So because I cannot administer the drops her vet has suggested removing her eye. Her daily life right now consists of sleeping a lot and waking here and there to walk around and follow me. Though because she doesn’t hear well, she always seems to look confused trying to find me. Not seeing and not hearing I feel as if she feels lost. But I’m not her so I can’t assume this is how she feels. She has always been a nervous dog, she doesn’t seem to relax well, when she naps, she tends to wake and look to find me before laying her head back down to continue to nap. I’ve always been afraid that if something happened to her and she was in pain, she would not let me pick her up to take to the vets. I’ve always thought I would have to throw a blanket around her and grab her that way. I do have a muzzle for her as she needs to be muzzled at the groomers and generally at the vets depending on what she’s in for. When trying to administer the eye drops I put on her muzzle but she wouldn’t stay still enough for me to drop them in her eyes, she would growl beneath the muzzle and just wriggle so much it was impossible for me to do. Now it seems she might need to have her right eye removed also. So I keep going back and forth about having the surgery or have her euthanized. I just want to know that if after the surgery will her quality of life be good enough for her. And then I’m worried about having any medication to administer after the surgery and how she will do with that. I’m ok with her not being a lovey dovey dog but now that she won’t be able to fetch a ball (that seemed to be what she lived for) and will just be lying around most of the day, I wonder about her quality of life. How do pain biters do after a major surgery? I don’t know and am just confused about it all and have crying fits every night once in bed. I don’t mind the expense of the surgery I’m just concerned how she will fare from it, is this something I should put her through given her age and temperament? Will it make her happier? I’m hoping so as I can’t seem to lean towards euthanizing her. Any encouraging thoughts?
Hi, I am actually going through this now. I adopted a small dog about a month ago. I know his history. Was told by the rescue to be very strict and dominant. He will bite. But, he was so adorable and sweet I thought it would all be fine. But similarly, if he’s nudged the wrong way, or you pet him too long, or he hides, he growls ferociously. He bite me pretty bad once. He’s tiny, but it’s not fun having to be in a constant battle for dominance. And I would hate for him to bite someone else or have to crate him every time we have company over. Its gotten better. But I’m worried his little outbursts will persist and wonder if I should just return him. I feel horrible though.
Thelissa Mead
I’m going through this very same thing. We adopted a greyhound who’s previous owners were killed in a helicopter crash. We have a 9 year old girl and everything was fine in the beginning but then he started to growl at us, then he was nipping st the Maribor, our friends and finally me. We couldn’t be fearful of him so the adoption agency will be re homing him. He is more traumatized than we thought and he needs more help than we can give him and he deserves it. I am beyond heartbroken and my daughter is inconsolable, we know in our minds it’s the best thing for all of us. I just with someone could explain it to my broken heart. Any words of encouragement would be appreciated
Thank you so much for sharing this. We had to rehome our loved Layla just two days ago and I am heartbroken. We adopted Layla in June 2018. When we went to pick her up the foster mom said “Say goodbye to your sister, and black dogs don’t get adopted as easily” so we adopted her sister Carlie also. We brought them home and tried to give them the best home. We were told they were lab mixes, but our vet informed us they are pittie mixes, and they would be awesome pets. Layla is white and tan with one brown eye and one blue eye. Carlie is completely black. He also informed us that it isn’t wise to adopt littermates at the same time because of littermate syndrome. We did seperate training and tried to do everything to prevent it. However, the fighting and aggression just intensified. Layla was pretty independent and only wanted to be petted or attention when she wanted it. She was very dominate over Carlie with food, toys, etc. She would growl and snap at me when moving to get up or walking by her. Well, it escalated Saturday and she tried to bite me when getting up from a nap and then she snapped at my 4 year old grandson’s face for no reason. He was just petting her. That was my breaking point. I would never forgive myself if she would have hurt him, and I was always afraid of what she might do. I contacted the rescue where we got her and she is with a foster. I can’t stop crying and feeling like I failed her. I know she must be so scared. I am heartbroken and feel horrible. Plus, some people act like I gave up on her. Your post made me feel like I am not alone. Thank you for that!
jennifer gittleman
I’m going threw something similar . My Mastiff is only 2 and I’ve had him since he was 9 weeks . He bit my daughter 3 months ago for no reason . She went up to him in the couch and was just petting him like she had in the past .
I adopted the two oldest dogs that were at the Humane Society and had been there over a year and a half I’ve had them for three months now and I was definitely warned that the big one Bacchus was a pain biter, and to always wear his muzzle on doing anything with his body, but I didn’t listen and I am devastated because He has been the sweetest, most gentle dog and my other dog I adopted is so mean to him and he just hangs his head and walks away and he’s 10 pounds heavier than her. I feel sad because I tended to give her more attention because she demanded it , But he loved attention and if I rubbed his head and ears he would groan and if I stopped, hr would take his nose and push my hand so I would keep rubbing and I got really comfortable with him. But the other day I felt so bad for him because I could tell he had an ear infection and wouldn’t be able to get treatment until the next day because it was Sunday and I decided to clean his ear again to maybe make him feel a little more comfortable which by the way, I had done twice during the week and he loved it. So I had a thin rag around my finger and I just put a little bit of the ear cleaning solution on it and I just put it in his ear and lightning fast, with no growl for a warning I barely remember anything except he had my hand in a death grip and his teeth were sticking out and he was growling and he wouldn’t let go I tried to do something to make him let go with my other hand so they both were injured, the pain was terrible but I didn’t want to go to the hospital because I knew they would report it I kept trying to think of lies but I was afraid they would figure it out so I waited till Monday to go to my doctor,
( I had to have some stitches in one finger lots of Band-Aids on my hands and get a tetanus shot and cellulitis had started and when hand because I had waited I guess so I had to go for a shot three days in a row, and lots of antibiotics ) and that was after I had the Humane Society pick him up to go to the vet , Which by the way I didn’t tell them what Happened, but I asked them to keep him for a few days because of my hands being injured and if he needed medication for his ears I wouldn’t be able to do it. But it’s been almost 7 days and I haven’t taken him back yet, I cry every day, I feel so bad and they went to keep him there because they know that he gets terrorized by the other dog They also know that me taking both dogs has been a huge responsibility way bigger than I thought, because Bacchus is also on a lot of pain medication for arthritis in his back which is really sad you can tell just looking at him. But he has been such a precious boy, he’ll go out in pouring down rain to go potty, he just carries a little stuff toys around in his mouth a lot and causes no trouble. I’m actually crying as I write this , But I am scared of him now, I think of the times I’ve kissed him on his head and he could’ve just attacked my face although they had said when I adopted him he is a pain biter, so I feel like it’s my fault. I was warned More than once to put his muzzle on when bathing or doing anything to him. I talked to one of the ladies that is really familiar with him and I guess all the women at the shelter just love him. I didn’t tell her what happened but I did tell her I had a little incident that he scared me and she said you really should leave him here because he’s happy here , and he has a regimen and she said they need a regimen which I am really bad at, and he has toys she said they actually let him pick a toy anytime he wants when they walk him . But all I do is cry because I know he loved having her home and I feel like I abandoned him And I wonder if he’s thinking about his home. I feel like I’m going to have to go get him, but they did tell me if you are afraid of your dog they sense it and take advantage, although I really don’t know what that means. Does anyone have an opinion he is almost 11 and I think he’s part Rottweiler ( his head and neck look totally like a Rottweiler he looks like a big black bear ). The other dog I have was his roommate for over a year I don’t understand why she terrorizes him but she’s very attached to me and she just wants me to her self so they also said that the Humane Society I should let Scarlet have me to her self she is actually 15 she is a mountain cur breed. Can someone help me with this decision, and if I have to leave him, how can I ever quit crying and get over it ? No one will ever adopt him because of his age and his bite history, which actually happened once with his previous owner but they had children other than that he was a great dog with them for a little over nine years.
So sad. Yesterday I had to return my dog, a 7 year old Maltese-Yorkie (Morkie) to the shelter where we adopted him. He was with us for 7 weeks and, while mostly very affectionate and endearing, is an extremely fearful dog who becomes aggressive when he panics. He was set off by normal household events such as a family member attempting to leave the house or even just a family member entering or leaving the room. He respected and obeyed only me. As for my husband and our 2 teenagers, the dog was regularly chasing them and threatening to bite – all of the warning signs were there – the canine body language that precedes a bite. We had a trainer come to our house for a consultation and the dog went crazy as he does whenever anyone visits. When the session ended and the trainer tried to leave, he lunged at her and bit her in the leg, leaving a puncture wound. It got so bad I had to keep him on leash in the house every day to keep everyone safe. It was a terribly hard decision, but I had to return him to the shelter. Still, I loved him and feel so very sad.
You did the only thing you could do. This poor little guy was someone else’s problem until they surrendered him to a shelter so he could be adopted by other unsuspecting people. It’s very emotionally draining living with a Jekyll and Hyde dog.
Kimberly, just read your letter with having to return Kopa, we adopted A 10 year old dog Bennie, he kind of chose us, however he’s great with us at home but when my daughter came in 2 weeks later he bite her,so she is scared of him, then few weeks later our son in law came to get grandchildren and he bite him, so I was then going to return him but husband wanted to give him another chance so we did but now he’s bitten sons friend so that’s it for me I can’t trust him and he has issues with people and dog walkers when we walked with him unpredictable. Such a shame as he’s a lovely boy (indoors ) so I’m returning him but my husband says no .. but I have to be able relax in my home and when people call round it is upsetting but who knows what they are going to be yes I’m returning him after 8 months..
This article helped. We just adopted a dog a week ago. He is such a sweet dog and bonded to me from the first instant. My daughter and I fell in love. We discovered yesterday though that he’s afraid of men. He nipped my ex husband twice and had severe anxiety the entire time he was in the house. Then today, he outright attacked my father and bit him. It seemed like he was protecting his new home and owner, but I have a young daughter and 3 cats, with family always visiting. We are beyond devastated but it’s looking like he needs to be brought to the shelter. I never thought I’d do this. We are so very in love with this dog. But it’s like a switch is flicked and randomly he will go after a Male if he’s in the house, completely unprovoked. I dont know what else to do.
I came across your post after agonizing over my dog Koda the last few days that I ultimately had to surrendered on Monday to the shelter. Your story is similar to mine but I ignored the obvious signs until it was too late.

I found Koda as an abandoned puppy stray and we had him for 5 years. I feel like I failed in properly training him to correct some issues and didnt even get to say goodbye. He is a pure bred German Shorthaired Pointer, 5 years old, very fit, and beautiful, uniquely marked dog, good at obedience, but over the last few years we have had now 3 incidents where he is got stressed/anxiety and overly sensitive about certain body parts or getting startled and have bit my two older daughters on the face, requiring stitches for 2 of the incidents. One time was due to touching his back rear area and we later found out he had an enlarged prostate and need treatment. Not aggressive, but more insecure , and they tend to smother him, which he doesn’t like. The last incident happened on Thursday night when my daughter tried to rub his stomach and we had to take my daughter to the ER, for 3 small stitches to her cheek. On Friday I contacted a Rescue that I have worked with in the past that specializes in the breed, to see if they would take him and be able to work with him, and maybe place with an older couple with no kids. Was waiting on them as the process can take awhile to get going.

Unfortunately on Saturday when walking him, along with my other older GSP, I got a text message from my wife that Animal Control was at the house wanting to get Koda. I rushed back, and never thought it would be my last time of throwing the ball for him, and Animal Control had to take him to quarentine him for 10 days for rabies (Even though he is up on his shots) and they were wanting us to owner surrender him, or I could try to get him back but it would be a long and costly process, with regular checkups on us. I told him I was trying to find him a rescue and hoping they could work with us on it. They claimed the shelter tries to not euthanize, and if we owner surrender and pay the fee, he would have good chance of going to a rescue (they cant place him directly to the public due to the biting liability). They have a large network of rescues they work with. I could barely talk to them without crying and my wife was crying too as she had just started bonding with him as her loyal running partner.I had to load him in truck and didn’t even say goodbye to him, as I wasn’t thinking that I would never see him again. I really regret not saying goodbye as I could see he was scared going into the truck. Sent another message to the GSP Rescue about the dire situation, and they were trying to help me, but on Monday the Shelter called and said it would be hard for them to work with an outside rescue unless I owner surrendered him, and to try to get him back would be thousands of dollars, and after the multiple incidents we really couldn’t bring him back, so I surrendered him yesterday. I didn’t get to see him when at the facility as they did not recommend it, as it would stress him out more. The officer at the shelter did say because he’s a pure bred GSP, he would have a good chance of going to a rescue. Not sure if that was just to console me, or the truth. I also did finally hear back from the GSP rescue and told them the status, and they said they would see if they could do anything, but am just not sure if there is really a chance for a dog to be rehabilitated that has had multiple biting incidents even if it wasn’t aggressive.

Its been 5 days since they took him and I never thought I would take it so hard and feel like I let him down, and could have trained him better to fix the issues. I am okay with not keeping him, but just want to know that he gets another chance with another family/owner as he really was a great dog even with his issues. I am hoping he gets re-homed but not sure I will ever know. I seem to forget all the great memories and just focus on that time they picked him up and took him away, and the regret for not being more proactive sooner.

Thank you for posting. I’m going through a similar situation and it’s an extremely hard decision even though I know what’s best for my family as well as my dog. I’ve had my boy since he’s a pup and as he’s gotten older his anxiety is causing him to become more and more aggressive and he’s a big guy so he’s very strong. He’s not in anyway at all aggressive with me but is to anyone else that comes into my home. He’s hasn’t bitten anyone, but had grabbed someone’s arm and made a bruise. He snaps a lot and has a mean bark towards them and I’m afraid that if one day I won’t be able to hold him back and that would be my worst fear. He’s so loving with me and turns into a different dog when others are around. It’s heartbreaking. It’s comforting to know there are others in similar situations and to see how they’ve decided to go forward. Currently my dog is still home with us but I know it’s best to find him a home that he will be more comfortable in. And with someone who can be a better fit for him. It’s also hard to know that some think that this is giving up on the dog. I feel like I’ve done whatever I could for him and that there will be someone else that can better provide for him what I cannot. Thank you for posting as now I know I’m not alone in this situation.
My girlfriend and I rescued a 1.5 year old terrier mix 3 years ago. He was my first dog. He was always leash aggressive and has resource aggression. My girlfriend has never really bonded with him, but he became my little man. We attempted some interventions…not very invasive ones…but there was no improvement. We rescued our second dog..a 2 year old chihuahua mix about a year ago. This new dog has never met a stranger, and it wonderful in every way, shape, and form. My girlfriend loves our second dog while our first is an afterthought. The dogs get along well. Our first dog also occasionally pees in the house (very rarely..but still noteworthy) and barks/howls at all other dogs and most people. We aren’t comparing the dogs…but the drastic differences are unavoidable.

My girlfriend has grown increasingly agitated by his behavior over the past weeks. It has began to drive a wedge in our relationship over the past week or so. We have talked about it…and the options are bleak. After reflecting, while I am emotionally attached to our dog, I realize how much easier our life would be without him. Within the next few years we are expecting to start a family…and our dog does not get along with kids either…so this discussion was on the horizon anyway. While I love our first dog…I also realize that I don’t want to maintain the lifestyle with him for the next 8-10 year. We don’t possess the skills to properly train our dog. If we were to rehome him, we’d have to return him to the rescue service we got him from. That thought, while I think it may be the best option, makes me feel like I am a failure with him. I think if I were single I would not be contemplating this, but the sobering reality is that this truly is probably the best option.

If we did rehome him, I would want to get another dog immediately. This thought irritates me a bit because it essentially is me wanting to trade in my dog for a ‘better model’. I’m just so conflicted right now. I want to feel like rehoming him would be best for him to get the training he needs, but I more strongly feel that it would be a burden lifted off of us even though I would feel like a failure.

It’s sad that your girlfriend considers your first dog an after thought (the dog picks up on that btw). He’s just being a dog. They all have different personalities and you certainly are comparing the two dogs.
I am in an extremely similar situation. My boyfriend and I adopted a dog 3.5 weeks ago and quickly found out that he bites (to draw blood) when visitors come over. We were attached to him from the beginning, and I had a very strong bond with him. On July 10, we decided to bring him back to the rescue we adopted him from. We informed him of the 3 bites he inflicted on our guests. We had meet with a behaviorist privately and she highly recommended that he not live in a home that could have children in the future, and that is when we knew that the best thing for him was to return him so that he could immediately begin finding the RIGHT family to live the rest of his life with. He was already 4 when we adopted him, so if we were to keep him another 3-5 years until we have kids, he would be close to 10 years old and would be having his life uprooted for the second time. We made our decision quickly to minimize hurt on both his and our emotions. Now he is at the rescue with more information about his bite history so that they can find the right family for him without having to be returned again.

It is painful and it can easily be viewed the wrong way by those unwilling to understand that when a dog behaves these ways, the dog is feeling badly too. Sometimes helping your dog find somewhere to live that he will feel safe is the true reality.

They probably put him to sleep
I’ve had my dog karma for years she has. Become aggressive towards me an she tries to bite me she chased my daughter Thur the house I tie her up now but she still mean she killed one of my small dog I try to keep her but I’m getting tired of her meanness I’m good to her I feed I take good care of her and she is just not cooperating I keep her cause I love her and don’t want to send her to the pound she is over 7 years old or older not sure my grandson found her when she was a pup
Wow these have all been tough to read and are tugging at my heartstrings.

We rescued a 3 yr old pit mix 18 months ago and she was very timid and shy when we first got her. Since then she has blossomed into a wonderful dog for my wife and I. She’s so affectionate and loving and has really made our house feel like a home. We noticed a few months after we got her she was uncomfortable around children. Side eye stares, barking and growling. We worked with a couple different trainers and thought things might be getting better but then she bit a child a few days ago leaving three puncture marks on his hand (i view this particular incident as my fault for not stopping the kid in time that came up to us). My wife is pregnant with our first child set to come in 2 months and we are absolutely devastated. There isn’t any amount of training I wouldn’t do for her to not be scared of children anymore but can I take the chance she won’t revert at some point? If something were to happen to my child I’m not sure I could forgive myself. We love her so much it’s been a week straight of crying in our house. I think deep deep down we know rehoming her somewhere with no children will be better for the pup and baby but we are absolutely devastated. Will we ever get over it?

My boyfriend is going through something very similar with his 6-months old Aussie. She is not aggressive toward him, but definitely against other humans. Not every human though – just some, and we haven’t figured out yet how she makes the call. She already bit me on two occasions, growls/snarls everytime I walk in the door, snaps/growls whenever I ask ANYthing of her (she won’t sit without a treat… if I pet her she growls… she protects her sleeping spot, her food like her life depends on it). Again, toward some people she’s ok, toward others she’s not. We saw a trainer, went to boot camp, practiced at home… no improvement. I recently brought up the topic of rehoming the dog but my boyfriend doesn’t want to hear it. It just breaks my heart, these could well be a very long and sad 10-12 years for the dog and the owner. I don’t see any other solution though, since he also has small children in the family who will visit eventually and what if something happens? I do not want to convince him to surrender the dog, I want this to come from him but he is not at that point yet.
You don’t want to push your boyfriend to rehome this dog, because if it comes down to its either me or the dog scenario, he very well might choose the dog. The dog sees you as competition. You need to become it’s friend, not it’s adversary (which it senses you are). Feed it, play with it, bring it toys and treats, and authentically like this dog. Aussie’s are very intelligent and this one is reading you.
Yea are you feeding the dog and walking it? If not the dog doesn’t respect or trust you most likely.
Kathy Earnest
Wow, when I googled if a shelter dog could become aggressive after a few weeks your article came up. We adopted an adult shelter dog almost 2 weeks ago. Your story stuck out to me because he is also a Coonhound. We also have a 1yr old black lab we got as a puppy. They had been playing together great. Otis (the Coon) would occasionally give Buddy what looked like playfully nips but then they would chase each other and both seemed to be having fun. The new dog is now becoming more overly aggressive with Buddy and had nipped my 16yr old and growled at my husband today. We ended up choosing Otis because my son loved him. My hubby wasn’t sure it was a great idea. Now my son wants nothing to do with him and my husband had fallen in love. Not sure what to do. I have a friend that might be interested in him but she can’t get him until August. He really is a sweetheart. I just don’t think the 2 dogs are going to end up friends!
I’m so sorry that you went through this. We adopted out a pair of bonded brothers from TX. My fiancé noticed that they were reactive to other dogs from the get go but stupid me wanted to believe that it was just the decompression period. We tried to tell the rescue agency that these two boys were reactive and they refused to believe us and still claimed that they loved other dogs and puppies. They blamed us saying that we were the ones that made the dogs aggressive.

The dogs broke out of my rear truck window one weekend (no one could explain how they even fit through) and chased after a newly neutered puppy and his owner. The puppy was attacked in the leg and the owner got bit as a result of breaking up the fight. We told the rescue about this and they still didn’t believe us – asking us to send proof of their reactivity (obviously we can’t get them to go near another dog) and so we capture them reacting to a vacuum cleaner. The more reactive one couldn’t get to the vacuum because he was in the crate so then he tried to get at his brother. We didn’t realize that we were being set up to make this video that made us seem like animal abuser but they rescue clung onto this video to claim that we scare the dogs with vacuums hence why they are reactive and aggressive.

my exact story but i got from breeder … its so hard i love my puppy but attacks me even after a 2 week highly rated training camp
most difficult decision im trying to make but the growling n biting me n my other dog n guests escalating
hard when you love her n tried everything
this article really made me feel not alone
im devestated
Ivan Dolin
I cant believe all these stories i feel so much better ! I adopted a 5 1/2 year old shih tzu from the humane society not knowing how severe the leash aggression hired a trainer . I tried for 2 1/2 years but he got worse biting people as well as myself . After two bloody bites in one week i went numb and made the phonecall and brought him back. Everyone was shocked except those that witnessed what i went through. When home he was great the cutest little dog so well behaved great companion . Then walk time comes and Cugo comes out at the sight of every dog tesulting in getting bit if i dont move fast enough . It was worth the try i loved that little guy. I only hope with both have great futures without each other
Rachel Afflitto
I am in tears reading your story because I am going through the same thing right now with my dog. He has biten a few times, one that required stitches. It happened to my husband. I feel guilty because I am our dogs main caretaker and I didn’t properly train him. Because I didn’t realize how important it was to start from the beginning when they are puppies and be consistant. He had some training, but not enough for him. I babied him because I loved him and was just doing the best that I could. I don’t know if my dog has some kind of chemical imbalance or if its a combination of both..improper training. He is becoming more aggressive and I cant take the chance anymore. I have a teenage son that is afraid of him now because of it. I can’t take the risk of him biting him or anyone else. I am heartbroken about saying good bye to him tomorrow. He is going to a home that will get him the proper training and one that has no children. Kobe is only a year and a half so he is still young enough to train. English Bulldogs can be stubborn! He will forever be in my heart! I love him enough to let him go to a home where he is happy.
Hello, we have a purebred Bluetick Coonhound. And I just want you to know how kind and helpful this article is.

Of course there are many kinds of pet owners who choose to rehome and they are not all good friends to animals. In fact, many people own pets as property and think of animals as less than humans. “It’s just a dog” or “just a cat” after all, they will say. Yet your article is a kind empathetic reach out to those of us who would never consider giving up a dog. Tomorrow will be one of the saddest days of my life, next to the death of any of my loved ones, people or pets. I dread it.

I have lived with animals my whole life and every single one has been a gift, a part of my life I am all the better for. I am sixty (somehow that happened) and have had rescued or adopted cats and dogs since I was a child. My husband has also always had wonderful relationships with all of the dogs he’s owned his whole life. But now, for the first time in either of our lives, we have to make the decision to find a more suitable home for our adorable dog. We have flip flopped on this decision for months trying to make our home work for her. Exercise, our big yard, a second dog to play with (they are best friends. :(….), three different trainers, gates… But now we have hit a wall.

We adopted our beautiful girl as a stray pup at 5 months old. They said she was found in Maryland. A classic story of a hunting dog disgarded perhaps, or lost from a yard tie up. No one knows. She ended up in a rescue near us, in the northeast. Like others’ stories, she was fine for a few months and then for some reason began what seems like anxious/ aggressive behavior. We thought the worst of it was her need to bark in the car for months, because the car, to her, is her most favorite exciting thing in the world. It means walks or the dog park. But there is no quiet when you are in the car with this silly dog – and a bark bred to be heard three miles away. Yes, we tried everything for that – all the training suggestions – you name it. This was nothing it turns out, to what was to come. Thinking about it now, this issue is actually cute.

She is now two years old. To summarize, since I could write pages, since getting older she has developed a resource guarding problem that has not responded to training; she has sometimes unpredictable triggers and becomes loud, scary and aggressive often without provocation. A trigger for a growl can be as small as a firmly spoken word from my visiting daughter. Recently, it was a growl and lunge at my son in law who told her to walk away from his car. The bottom line is, my daughter and son in law just had their first baby and will now not come to our house unless our dog is locked away. Yes, we are thrilled – our first grandchild! But the topic is so bittersweet when it comes to our dog. A vet who is a behaviorist as well as other’s consulted, have looked at video of our dog and told us that her resource guarding could be worked with to become less, that she could be “managed” but that it could never be guaranteed to go away and that once a dog displays her kind of aggressive warning behaviors, there is no future that would allow her to be trusted to be roaming about freely without a potential incident with a child.

I have read so much about her breed that I have become fine with what can be expected and we even accept her refusal to heed the word. “no!’ She has to calculate everything first and decide if it’s worth it to her. She’s a coonhound. That’s what they do. Do you have a treat with you? If so I will stop chewing up your book (photo, pen, wallet, money, glasses…fill in the blank) I just stole and consider, but until then I will growl and bare my teeth if you come closer. We were told she needs a job, more mental stimulation, to keep her from stealing and that she uses this whole interaction for entertainment. Oh, Lucie, Lucie. How much exercise and how many games in the yard can I create for you all day long to provide you with enough of that to trade me for a predictable and safer day?

If only we lived on an island without interaction with outside family or children coming to our home… if only so many things. She makes up for her quirky sensitive very vocal push back attitude with being adorable, funny, beautiful and sweet for most of the time. So different from any other dog we have ever had. Approach her to say goodnight and she must emit a low growl, which turns into a sigh. It’s sweet to us. Scary to most people. But that’s who she is. And coonhounds are known to be vocal about their feelings. She is sensitive, intelligent, learns quickly, but bred to be independent of humans. Even the resource guarding – something witnessed by video that our trainers have said would definitely result in a bite … even THIS we would be willing to work with for all the money it would take… BUT, our new 6 weeks old grandson is the tie breaker. In addition to that, my son in law has old school attitudes about dogs and their heeding commands, which do not work with her breed. Do they want to spend hours with a behaviorist to learn how to talk to her and how often? Can we trust them to talk to her the right way in the future when they come to our house?

So we are in the saddest position that I can think of, next to our need to drive to the vet and let our 17 year old terminally ill kitty be put to sleep last winter. We need to return our coonhound to the rescue where we found her and pray that they will take all the trainer’s and vet’s advice, work with her in a foster home so she isn’t left wondering what happened to her happy life while stuck in their kennel day after day and soon find her a home that works for her and her family better.

I write this long winded post with my emotions up on a shelf, door closed. Auto pilot mode. How else do you do something so against your heart? I may slip again and we may cancel the appointment for the fourth time and call the next behaviorist for another $250 for two hours.

So to all who found this site and to the administrator here, good luck and thank you for sharing. It’s not easy to find empathy among animal lovers for something so difficult to do.

Peace to all of you.


It’s better for this dog if it gets rehomed in my opinion. The bottom line is that you have a new grandson and a son-in-law who uses a tone that is threatening to this dog. It deserves to be with people who truly understand the breed and a family who will not go all over the place trying to justify getting rid of it. And, by the way, it chews up things because you are leaving those things where it can reach them. You could have provided this dog with its own chew toys like bully sticks. I feel for your remaining dog because it’s probably next and you are removing it’s buddy that it’s bonded to. This dog deserves a family who will appreciate it. We’ve had an aggressive dog and what you describe ain’t it.
Julie Howard
Thank you for your story. I’m sorry that you had to go through that. We have a lab/retriever mix that we got from the shelter. We got him as a puppy. His name is Tucker. Tucker is about 3 years old now. He has a lot of anxiety and fear. He barks at our neighbors and jumps on the fence like he wants to jump right over and attack them. They are terrified of him. When my teenage daughter went to get him when he was barking at the neighbors, he whipped around and put his mouth on her arm. When I called the vet, they said that counts as a bite even if he didn’t sink his teeth in. Their prognosis of him was very grim, saying that a lot of dogs like him end up being put down. He still gets snippy with her if she tries to get him. We called the humane society and they kindly sent a dog trainer over. She told us that he is an extremely high anxiety dog. We worked with him a bit in the back yard with high value treats trying to associate good things with the neighbors. This helped a bit, but he still barks at them. Now, last night we had my husband’s parents over for dinner. He was beside himself. It took all 4 of us – Me, my husband, my 2 teenage kids just to keep him “calm”. He barked the whole time. He was panting the whole time. He wore himself out. The last straw was when we took our party to the couch. By that time, Tucker we thought was getting used to them. They had been feeding him treats all night. He even sat on the couch with them at one time not barking. Then when my mother in law and I were in the middle of a conversation, seemingly out of nowhere he jumped on her and put his face on the side of her face and nibbled on her ear. He then put his face on the other side of her face and teethed her other ear. We pulled him off, but I don’t know what that was. It was very scary because we didn’t know what he was going to do. She then told us that she thinks we should get rid of him because of liability. He’s too unpredictable and he definitely could bite someone. My daughter, who loves animals, was crying at the idea last night. She wants to invest in more training. But I don’t know if we can train this out of him. We can’t ever have anyone over because of him. We can’t go on trips, because we can’t have him boarded. But we love him and don’t want to see him go at all. I don’t know what we will do, but I wanted to let you know that you are not alone in this emotional roller coaster.
Gosh I needed this. I’ve cried for days trying to make the decision, but hours yesterday over it since today is the day for a similar situation.
We found our dog on the side of the road. Had no intentions on keeping him, but after attempts to find him a place we ended up with him for a year. He’s always pulled on leash and had times where he’d go nuts with small dogs approaching. Well a few weeks ago our other dog let them out and he went after a neighbors dog. Thankfully we didn’t find out what would happen b/c the dog got away, but the neighbor called the police on us. It was horrible.k He’s always been loving with all of us and nuts when people come in the house, but immediately calms once he realizes they are ok. However, I’m not the alpha and I’m with both dogs all day. My anxiety and stress have increased significantly with having him and going on walks in the neighborhood is horrible for fear he may get away from me. My living situation has changed and it’s unmanageable by myself and outside of sending him away to a doggy boot camp and spending 1,000s I’ve done everything. Today I’m going to bring him to a shelter. He was never meant to be ours, but I want to give him the best chance of being chosen. It has torn me up! Thank you for the article!!!
Sad trainer
Your dog wasn’t aggressive, that’s laughable. You could’ve kept your “beloved” pet had you told your husband to START paying attention to body language indicating the dog does not WANT affection at that moment, and STOP invading the dog’s space by moving him when he is sleeping or “cuddling” – which is stressful to a lot of dogs. Get your other dog it’s own bed, START respecting your dog, and STOP using outdated pack or “alpha” theories, and STOP trying to exert “dominance” over your dog. Instead use SCIENTIFICALLY BACKED behaviorists who have studied canine behavior and learning theories. This is a really sad read as it follows such a predicable path – dog feels uncomfortable and invaded in his own space, owner uses harmful and outdated training methods causing dog to feel even more confused, insecure, and uncomfortable, thus causing dog to escalate behavior.
You have helped me so much by reading this. I have rescued dogs before and my last girl I had for 19 years and after 2 yrs wanted to fill that void so was going to get a puppy from breeder but strong believer in adoption so spontaneously we stopped at the rescue and my adult daughter pointed out such sweet sad eyes just pleading to leave. I told them I need a dog good with people and dogs. They had labeled her a wallflower and she was sedated from spading. I quickly realized how high energy and strong she was. Pulled me down so I enrolled in private lessons. She loved my sons dog but was unpredictable with others. Also with people she would act scary but then was fine. I was living my life around her trying and constantly on edge. I thought when we left Fl. ,where she was a stray at 1 yr old and had already had pups, and came to our home in NC it would be different. Her hunter instinct really kicked in ( black mouth cur mix)and she would bark aggressively at people walking by our house I was told fearful aggressive. I can only say I hope there is a special place you know where for the monsters that harm and ruin these precious creatures. She was so smart but was subjected to who knows what. I called rescues and tried myself but knew this wasn’t going away. I had only had her 3 months and shortly after adoption found out my daughters rare brain cancer is back and she loved my daughter and was such a great car traveler. I knew the way I was living with the stress of trying to make things better with her was a pipe dream and surrendered her. I have been torturing myself for 3 days now with the would’ve could’ve should’ve. Wondering if I should go get her etc. I made the right decision I know because even though she may never have bitten anyone I would have made myself sick over worrying about it. I blame the rescue organization for putting us through this heartache and reminds me of the comedian that said he got grief about buying a puppy instead of rescue and he said for once I want to be the first one to f up my dog. Yes it’s just a joke but if you don’t laugh you’ll cry. I know everyone’s heart is in the right place it’s just so darn tough doing this and I feel all your pain and knowing I’m not alone does help. God bless you all.
Thank you for this amazing article. my wife and I are going through a similar problem we have a beagle mix named jax whom we adopted from a shelter at 3 months old but the shelter could not tell us much information at like how his prior owner treated him and even what he is mixed with. He is now a year a d 5 months old and He is somewhat aggressive towards random people where he would randomly bark and growl when I walk him but it’s only like 1 in 20 people which we have no idea why. Also he has bitten me a few times when he has something he knows he’s not supposed to have. When correcting a bad behavior he can show teeth and get pretty upset. My wife is absolutely devastated with the thought of giving him to a shelter or finding him a new home. It’s not easy for me as well but we dont know what to do. I feel as if we’ve tried everything including a $1000 board and train program. Should we made the same hard decision?
my same story but mine is from a breeder i paid 1600 for board n train as she keeps attacking everyone
i give her 24 7 love and have tried it all
now im balling n need to see if breeder can rehome if not im not sure what to do
I don’t believe that aggressive dogs should be rehomed. That is just kicking the can down the road and avoiding responsibility to deal with the issues. Euthanize the dog and ensure it can’t harm any people or other pets. That’s the responsible thing to do.
I just think these people are all super naive about thier dogs getting rehome. If you take them to a shelter and they fail the examination for human/dog agression or resource guarding, they are euthanized. Shelters dont have time or money to treat behavior and it’s a liability. Also rescues will euthanize too especially for human aggression. I can understand if you cant take care of the dog but please don’t get anymore and dont delude yourself that the dog went to live a great life, it died 24 hours after you dropped your problem off. At least own up and euthanize it yourself.
Thank you so very much for sharing this. I recently adopted two new dogs that were supposedly a bonded pair. However, one of the dogs was simply a bully and when she was brought into the house, she attempted to bully everyone and everything in it. still, she was cute and adorable and I felt guilty because the shelter posted pictures of me with both of the dogs, and everyone quickly joined in to say how admirable it was to adopt a bonded pair. I think this is a great example of how about why bonded pairs come with great risk. My brother loves dogs, and came over to meet them. Both times he was over, she was very aggressive, growling, Etc. The first time she went to bite him, I pulled her off him quickly and she didn’t connect. But the second time, she attacked him as he was walking by the kitchen, going for biting his ankle. She missed the ankle, but connected with his sneaker. By then, I had enough. Sadly, the shelter then sent me an e-mail that indicated it was somehow my fault and that she didn’t feel like she was fitting in. During all this, I had done everything to make her feel like she was fitting in, including neglecting the other dogs at times. I had enough. She is going back tomorrow. I was looking for something to make me feel a little bit better and this really helped. Thank you
Alissia Thomas
I have 2 dogs. The oldest is a golden retriever named Leonidas and he’s the sweetest dog ever he loves everybody and every dog. Then there’s Bugs a pitbull/sheepdog mix who’s had a past of abuse and abandonment. Most days bugs loves us and she loves hugs and kisses and belly runs but she doesn’t like people or other dogs. She’s very aggressive when it comes to leonidas and she’s bit him really bad on his ear puncturing it when she was a puppy over food but other than that she’d just snap at him or pull his legs and ears. Today she bit him and punctured the base of his ear over a tennis ball. Now I’m lost because i love both of my dogs more than anything but i know one day she might fatally hurt him. I don’t know what to do and it hurts to think about it.
You have the responsibility to protect your older dog and instead you’re letting him be attacked repeatedly by an aggressive pit bull. This is not a tough situation to see the way out of. Send Bugs to the great kennel in the sky and don’t get anymore pit bulls.
my husband and I adopted a Chihuahua/Terrier mix about 2 years ago, he’s 4 now. he has bitten us, my family, and our other dog countless times. he has bitten both my husband and I, as well as his mom, in the face. he has some ‘triggers’ but most of the time it’s completely random and unpredictable. I know it sounds crazy that we have kept him this long but the guilt of euthanizing him sounds unbearable. living with him is terrifying at times. even though he’s small (15 lbs) he bites to hurt us, he breaks skin and draws blood. we don’t know why he is this way but assume he dealt with abuse. we love him immensely and when he’s in a good mood, he’s incredibly sweet. he loves attention and cuddling. I know he will continue attacking us, it’s not even a question. we are good at trying not to bother him now but we still get snarled at everyday, if not bitten too. we are moving across the country this summer and I don’t want to bring him but I also feel terrible thinking about any other option. I wish he could be rehomed but I don’t think it’s possible or ethical. I feel lost. I know my husband is willing to keep him because he’s very attached but the idea of living with him for the rest of his life sounds terrifying and exhausting. I love him so much but I don’t know what to do at this point…
Have you spoken with his Vet? It might be some medical condition that he’s dealing with and needs a thorough exam.
I’m really struggling right now. My ex husband, my son and I adopted our male dog from a rescue at 8 weeks old. He had been scooped from a feral mother down South. From the start, we loved him, but had to work with his anxieties: severe car sickness, dislike of the vet or having his nails trimmed, food stealing. As he has aged (he’s now 5), things have only gotten worse. He has bitten a friend who simply pet him (drawing blood), and has growled, snarled and snapped at my son and I repeatedly. He was once okay around other dogs, although oblivious to personal space and boundaries, but is now dog unfriendly. He has been aggressive towards my older dog. As much as I love him, I don’t trust him. If I assert myself with him, he becomes aggressive. My fear is surrendering him to the rescue I got him from, them re-homing him even knowing his history, and him hurting somebody.
I should add he goes to the vet regularly (muzzled), and has no health issues other than arthritis (which I treat). He showed *some* calming with a supplement, but not to a significant degree. I do love him, but I feel like a prisoner in my own home. I know I need to surrender him or something, I just feel so awful about it and stuck. Found this article and felt not so alone. Thank you.
Eugenia & Kurt Steinberg
We adopted an approximately 5 year
Old 19 lb terrier from a rescue we knew! We have him for 6 months loving adorable dog but unfortunately only with us! He is aggressive, constantly barking at all noises! We had a trainer for about 2 months but felt his techniques were to aggressive polking him in the ribs. Pulling his leash real tight etc. He was not the nicest trainer but came highly recommend! But I felt he was an angry and bossy not normal! Now we hired another trainer our rescue recommended. Our rescue said he does positive reinforcements and we trust her! Well he walked in with a muzzle a prong collars! I said I thought you didn’t you ude those methods! Well he said in some cases its necessary! My husband and I love the dog but my other rescue yorkie nows goes after him
and in the beginning they didn’t ‘ Needless to say I have been searching for ans on what to do! We don’t to give him back to the rescue but we are exhausted and spent a fortune which we have no problem but He will bite someone! The rescue seems to blame us even though she only had him for 2 weeks and just new his owner for 5 years at 80
Passed away the family got rid of him
Immediately with no medical records or anything? Please advise? Thank you so very much!
I am in this situation right now. We’ve had our hound mix Kona for 5 months. The first few days at home with us and our four kids, she was great. But then she started to develop territorial aggression. She’s aggressive toward anyone who isn’t a member of our immediate family, especially if they look her in the eye. She hasn’t bitten anyone yet, but it’s because we’ve kept her either confined or on a very tight leash. We’ve worked with a dog behaviorist and Kona made great strides, but we simply can’t afford the triple-digit-per-session fees.

Kona is very trainable, and she’s only like this with people outside the immediate family. At home with her family, she sleeps, she plays, she loves to be loved. But we live in a neighborhood, and we always have people going in and out, and we like to travel. As it is, we can’t take her with us (she shakes uncontrollably in unfamiliar environments) and we can’t leave her in anyone’s care. And we have to be on high alert whenever anyone comes to our home. It’s been very difficult for us to live a normal life.

I’ve reached out to dog trainers I know and they’ve all agreed that for liability issues, I need to return her to the shelter. Unfortunately, I spoke with the shelter and they said that with her issues she’ll likely be put down. So I’ve reached out to other rescues in our area, but no one will take her. It’s absolutely heartbreaking, because I know her aggression is just because she’s scared. And she is SO trainable, I just know she could work through it if she were in a more controlled situation with someone who knows what they’re doing. I just don’t know what to do.

The worst part is that I sat Kona down and explained this all to her, and she just looked at me intently with her one blue eye and one brown eye and then gently placed her paw on my arm, as if to tell me she understood. My heart is breaking.

I am going through the exact same issue however the rescue we are working with has been very supportive as we have worked through accepting our dog’s needs are greater than our ability to help him. Increasingly, our dog has become aggressive not only to visitors to our property, but is now lunging at people on the street. We have a young child and we can’t risk putting either our child or the dog in a harmful situation so we are returning him, which is completely heartbreaking. He looks at me with his big brown eyes and I am filled with guilt but I know he needs a quieter home, with an owner who understands how to help him through these issues. He is going back to his foster mother tomorrow, and the only thing that makes me feel better is knowing he is going back to a wonderful person, and that his time with us over the last three months will ensure he goes to a home who fully understands his needs, and loves him for all his great qualities. I wish you the best, your story was helpful for me to read- thank you.
In November of 2018 we had to put our basset hound Daisy Duke down due to a tumor in her spleen. We had taken in Daisy from a friend of the family who said she didn’t get along with the other dogs. Anyway Daisy was a wonderful dog and we decided we wanted to rescue another Basset hound so in December of this year we adopted Abbie. The day we got Abbie she was loving all over myself and my husband and he was so happy he decided he would just carry Abbie to the car. Well Abbie bit him. We had been told prior to adopting Abbie that the previous owner had surrendered her because she was “aggressive” but the foster mother hadn’t seen any signs of aggression other than her snapping at the vet tech when she was about to be picked up. So we chalked the incident up with the bite toward my husband as her being scared to be picked up. When we took Abbie home she was the perfect dog. She was loving and sweet toward everyone. She does like to play a lot and likes to play tug of war. Fast forward to April of this year when Abbie seems to be adjusted well is loving toward my husband and toward me. She was especially close with me. We were together all day every day because I work from home. She would lay with me on the bed while I was reading and allow me to snuggle her. There were a few incidents in which Abbie barked at my husband when I was sleeping and she was still asleep in her bed and he had come in to pet her and she had thrown herself over backwards barking at him to stay back. She also seemed scared when my 19 year old son would wear his cowboy boots. She would start shaking and tuck her tail between her legs. We would always reassure that she was ok and we assumed her “bad daddy” had worn cowboy boots. Anyway my husband and I came home from a charity even the other night coincidently for a Basset Hound rescue and were playing with Abbie and our 14 year old red heeler, Cinni. We were throwing the toys around and the dogs were having a wonderful time. It got a little late so we were getting ready for bed and my husband had sat in an over stuffed chair, where I had thrown a leather handbag when I got home that evening. I went over to hug my husband and Abbie came up under my legs. My husband assumed Abbie wanted love too so he bent down to give her a pet and hug her like usual and without warning she lunged toward his face. She bit him on his leg and arm before I was able to subdue her. We ended up going to the hospital. It was just awful. Animal control came and took Abbie from us and I will never forget the look in her eyes when I had to give her over to them. I called her foster mom and I am just praying the agency will take her back. The foster mom said she will keep her a forever foster. It appears Abbie is afraid of men and the foster mom was single so she was never really around men for an extended period of time. I feel terrible for Abbie and cry for her every day. This was a horrible situation.
Natalie Stocks
My dog was hog tied & dumped. Hospital was going to euthanize but after a month of having my lunches with him I bought him home. Recently after my older dog passed away I focused on him more. Never has he allowed us to brush him. I have to take him to work sedate & brush. Awful on the leash. My fault as I was concentrating on my 18yr old. Today after going after my husband twice he was booked in with an aggression trainer. 4hrs before I’m cleaning his sore foot as I have for a couple of weeks. Next think I’m 8n the fetal position. 61# on top of me have a snarling the whole time I ended up with a re mark next to my eye where his teeth were. Now the trainer wont help.
I am sitting here crying as I am in the same position that you and your husband were in. I am overwhelmed with guilt, but you have helped and giving me hope. Thank you for sharing your story.
My husband and I had to surrender our Dogo today. Our dog became very aggressive last night and attacked our other dog causing serious injuries. We have had our dodo since he was 4 weeks old. He is now 1 year 6 months and 130 lbs. I love him soooooo much, my heart is broken but your article gave me peace of mind that surrendering him was appropriate. He has been growling at my husband and would bully our other dog at will. Thank you for your making my decision easier.
My girlfriend and I recently took in a dog from a co worker of hers. He had not been fixed yet and is 18 months old. We thought the growling was due to him not being fixed yet so we took care of that. We have been going to obedience classes for the last month with no issues. At home though he has started to become more aggressive than before. He will come over and nuzzle his nose on your hand to give him attention, but 5 seconds later he growls and bears his teeth. We are going to have bloodwork done next week to see if it is a medical condition. If it is not medical, we are going to a certified trainer that deals with aggression in dogs to get her opinion. We love him and want what is best for him, but we also have a baby on the way in July and don’t know what to do when that time comes. Your story sounds very similar to our situation
I can’t believe how many people out there have trouble putting down a dog that they have been bitten by NOT once but sometimes 3 or more times!!! Seriously people wake the F up…. Wow!!
Exactly! Some of these comments are just nutballs!
Thank you so much for sharing your story. We have a 2 year old lab mix who we adopted a few months ago. At first he was totally fine with my female friends coming to visit one at a time, but we hosted first my in-laws and then my family over the holidays. He bit my brother-in-law and seriously frightened my in-laws and my dad. When a cousin came to stay, we followed all of our trainer’s guidance on introducing them, and he still bit him right off the bat. He is a beautiful dog, in peak physical health, and he is almost always so sweet and loving with my husband and I – in many ways he has become a true part of our family. But we have also completely altered our lifestyles to keep him around – we rarely have friends over because he has to be kenneled and he barks constantly. We hardly go out because he has such severe separation anxiety and we feel terrible leaving him alone in that condition. I get stressed any time anyone comes to our house – delivery people, neighbors, etc. – because of how aggressively he barks and snarls – what if he got out and bit them one day? We have an appointment next week with a veterinary behaviorist, and I hope that can help. But at the same time I know that we are probably not giving him the life he needs, and that he may even have mental issues belied by his apparent physical health. I, too, work from home and so I spend all day with him – the idea of saying goodbye is extremely painful, but I’m afraid the day may be coming. Reassuring isn’t the right word, but it is helpful to know that others have been through this heart-wrenching process. Thank you again for sharing and for opening a space for discussion.
Just yesterday we had to return our 7 month old hound mix Marshall to the shelter. My heart is broken. He had a severe case of resource guarding that recently resulted in a full attack on my husband as he was trying to fetch a plastic wrapper. Blood was drawn-it was all kinds of ugly. We have two young children and an in home nanny who also has a young girl. Returning him was the hardest thing I have ever done, but I know in my heart it was the right thing. Thanks for sharing your story. Xoxo
Thank you for sharing this article. I have a 10 week old pit bull named Lala. We rescued her three weeks ago from someone who did not want her (unwanted Valentine’s day gift). I did not know much about the dangers of bringing home a puppy that was separated from its mother before 8 weeks. Aside from regular puppy behavior (jumping, mouthing, etc.), Lala was very nice and loved to cuddle when she arrived. Now, she has become super aggressive. She tries to bite as if she were angry at you, she lunges and barks at us, etc. Whenever we come home, she is so excited to see us but eventually she gets aggressive. We try to be calm and assertive and pull her off, but she keeps coming back with a vengeance until we have to put her in a time out. My four year old is now afraid to be in the same room with her and only walks around if someone is holding her. I have to wear boots around the house in case she tries to go for my feet. And I tried everything! I took her to the vet, went to an animal behaviorist, etc. I have to think about the safety of my family (especially since I am due with baby# 2 in June), so we will be rehoming her. We found a nice couple who is willing to work with her and have had more experience than me dealing with dogs. It’s what is best for her, but I can’t stop crying. It’s as if I lost a member of my family. Like I am giving away a child. The guilt is eating me alive and I have thrown up twice now just today. My husband worries that it is affecting our unborn baby, but I can’t help it. The sadness is overwhelming.
Like all the others, I want to thank you for sharing your story. I have a similar story, only I have had my pup for just shy of 7 years. Desmond is a Border Collie/Australian Shepard mix, and has needed lots of extra attention from the gates. He gets tons of exercise daily! I also have a Golden Doodle, and I take them out for long trail runs, walks, we go snow shoeing, mountain biking, hiking … he loves to camp and play, but he is unpredictable and snaps at people. And as he ages this is getting to be more problematic. He escaped my gated yard yesterday, and bit a woman walking by. This seemed unprovoked. She stated he ran through the gate (the latch hadn’t caught completely), bit her and then ran back into the yard. There could be a million reasons why this happened (protecting his turf, sensing danger, etc.) but the essence is, he bit her. And now my problems seem to be more than behavior issues.

I love the little guy so very much, but he obviously needs something other than the suburban life I can give him – perhaps a farm where he can work, maybe a county house, maybe someone who can work with him daily beyond his hour of exercise. I have been struggling with this issue for awhile, yesterday seemed to be the decision point.

My question to you is how do you rehome a pup who has special needs like this? I do not want to see him euthanized, I have to believe that someone out there is up for this challenge! Someone who could work with him differently, offer a different structure and discipline than I have been able to … and if they did, they’d have such a beautiful loving companion. But how do you find this person?

It is unethical to “rehome” that dog. have it euthanized. Aggressive dogs have no place in society.
I have a similar situation and request. I have had behavioral training for my dog and worked with couple of regular trainers and a behaviorist. I rescued the dog at maybe 4 yrs old and have had her for 2 years. I have thought her all kinds of commands. Sit, stay, lay down, roll over, shake, and leave it. She is so loving to me. But strangers, she will try to bite unless I’m holding her back. The command “leave it” even w the prong collar is not working. I do it exactly as the trainer showed me. I use a muzzle always in public, just in case. she goes crazy in the car when we drive by people or dogs. (When we walk, same thing. She goes nuts and is airborne even on a prong collar. I can finally eventually get her to sit after the dog is almost out of site).
In the car today with me, we were in the parking lot after I worked on training and walking her. Some owners and dogs were near the car. She lunges up front being ballistic barking, growling, lunging at my car windows. I can usually tell her “back” and she gets and stays in the back seat. Not this time. And this time when I tried to get her back, she acted like she was going to bite me. I know I cannot do this anymore. Someone or myself will get hurt. I have spent so much money and my heart and 2 years of training and loving her, but someone is going to end up getting hurt. It was clear she was abused and not socialized.i knew that she had been abused when I got her. I had a very kind and patient dog daycare also work with us. They knew she had major issues, too. They loved her but she had ok days and days she wouldn’t play with dogs when I would take her. I really have changed my life to try to make it okay for her. Reading, watching training advice, helpful hints, asking people including my vet.., no one has had answers that worked. Even my vet said it’s major fear aggression and that the dog is crazy and bless me for being a person to take her.
I know because she was returned to a shelter twice before I adopted her, that she’s probably going to end up being put down. I can’t handle that thought because usually she’s wonderful one on one w me. I’m thinking maybe there is someone with a house in the country that wants a farm dog, where she can run around outside? I don’t know. I’m scared I am going to be hurt, or that someone will get hurt. The guilt I feel is so bad because I have tried and love her so much, and keep asking myself if I have done enough. My mom has been saying to give her away for at least a year, and that I shouldn’t feel guilty and have done more than anyone would. It still hurts. And I work in the pet industry, too.

I also wish I could find a home for my dog with someone who wants to work with aggressive dogs that can have a chance at rehabilitation. I just think now that with all I have tried with her, the reality is that I can’t do it anymore. It’s not getting better after all of this time. I have been so consistent with training. But every walk is a nightmare. Every person walking across the street. Every dog, even driving in a car if she sees a person walking or a dog.., it’s out of control. I have followed all advice and training to a “t”. I know that the dog feels tension through the leash, all of it. I have been so consistent and I feel horrible because the realization is that I can’t make it better. When I saw her leap into my front seat in my car, I could have been driving! It was scary. I feel like I have let my dog down. I have cried so much off and on for the 2 years I have had my dog. And I realized I’m not helping her or something just is missing from what she needs. I know it’s to the point that I can’t get to her in the way that maybe I professional having her full time can. I have spent thousands of dollars on trainings and trying to work with her. Lots and lots of hours and patience: still, after tonight…
Where do I find a new home for her? I know if she goes to a shelter, she will be put down. I have been so patient. She needs a country home, someone who lives alone and deals with dogs that are aggressive due to fear and abuse, lack of socialization.
I really need advice on where I can get her a good home. I think the right person can maybe get through to her… I don’t want her to be put down and I don’t want her to hurt anyone. I just want her to be in a home where she and others are all safe. Where she can be happy.

This is really disturbing that people have more concern for an animal that is bent on harming others than for humans themselves. A farm isn’t the fix, NOWHERE on Earth is in isolation from other animals and human, so harm will just occur “on the farm” in the country. Maybe livestock, neighbors dog, farmer’s daughter. Poster has already admitted she works with animals, and yet, this animal escaped. These type people are the exact reason I walk with weapons. So sad the lack of empathy for fellow humans and other pets all in the name of one animal determined to kill that you can’t own up and put down. I’m sure my post won’t make it through this group of absolute wackos!
You did the right thing. Taking chances with an infant on the way would be crazy.
You did the right thing.
By re homing him before a bite happened you did your best to give him a chance to grow out of his aggression towards men. I hope his new owners take this aggression seriously. Even if he is adopted by a woman or an all female household, a dog that is aggressive to 50% of the population is a disaster waiting to happen.

So many people will continue to force an aggressive dog to live in a situation it is not comfortable with. Sooner or later someone gets bit. It is painful to consider but humane euthanasia before a bite is better than doing it retroactively after one. Hopefully that won’t be necessary with this dog. By getting him out of a household he was uncomfortable in, you have given him the best chance to have a happy and safe life. Many dog owners let ego get in the way and make a decision based on what makes them feel good versus what is good for the dog.

I know many people will come at you with a dog is a lifetime commitment. That is true. However by taking the dog back to the shelter you fulfilled that commitment and gave him the best shot at having a long and happy life. Sometimes things just don’t work out with a dog. I am amazed we have gotten to where re homing a dog is a bigger deal than getting a divorce to many people.

Best of luck to both of you and congrats on the upcoming baby.

I’m in the middle of this at the moment. My dog is aggressive when leashed and he’s a large, powerful dog. I have other dogs and I can’t walk him with them because he sets them off when he sees a dog. I tried everything but i also cannot afford a trainer. It is absolutely breaking my heart, It physically hurts to think about it. But i am currently trying to rehome him through a charity that will help train him aswell as rehome, so he can walk happily. I selfishly want to hold him close and never let go but i know its not the best for him.
We just adopted a one (1) year old dog from our local Humane Society. He’s adorable in every single way – he loves our other two dogs and our cats, he’s a cuddly affectionate goof ball. He’s perfect except for one thing: He’s leash aggressive – he barks and lunges at other dogs being walked while he’s on leash. I signed him up for his first obedience class at the same place where he was adopted and we concentrated on this one problem. He was the biggest noise maker in the class because of the other dogs, but by the end of the 6 weeks, and with actually training ME to be able to distract him from other dogs on leashes, he’s making excellent progress. Just to enforce what he and I have been learning, I am signing him up again for the same class – then after that, agility training. You might consider looking into an obedience class run by a local Humane Society in your area. It’s a fun thing for him/her also, and at the price of $130.00-$160.00 for 6 weeks, it’s a bargain if you would consider keeping and working with your pet.
We too are going through this. Rango is my sour patch dog, when he’s sour he’s awful…growls and snaps at me when I tell him to get down from the bed or couch or when I tell him to stop lunging and barking at people walking by. Over the 7 years he’s been in the family I felt like I had his aggression under control with a muzzle. However the past 2 I feel like it’s gotten worse, But when he’s sweet he’s such a cuddler and snuggly dog, he loves licking my step daughters face and loves being playful and chasing his tail, however on Valentine’s Day I noticed his aggression had gotten muchworse and he bit down and held his grip on my hand and he tried to bite my son when he told him to get off the couch, he also tried to bite my boyfriend while he picked him up to remove him from the situation. So I made a decision to rehome Rango, it was a tough decision but it was for the best. My parents are sad and aren’t as supportive about it but it’s not something they’re faced with, and my biggest fear is for Rango to really hurt someone and have to be put down. I am happy to say he is going to be with a farmer that my boyfriends dad is good friends with and he has 100s of acres of land for Rango to run around on and be the only dog there. I’m going to go through the stages of grief of having to give him away but I have to keep thinking that it’s for the best.
Kristen Boone
My two year old bloodhound mix has had a ton of medical issues since we got him when he was 5 months old. He had a very negative reaction to a steroid for an allergy reaction around 6 month and ended up having very bad agression as a side effect. This lasted months. He had also had issues with dog fear aggression after being attacked by a dog in our neighborhood the first week we had him. Our poor puppy has had really bad luck in the health department. We found out he had IBD (will be on a steroid for the rest of his life) and on top of this he has become aggressive towards people (we did work with a behaviorist to fix the dog aggression, that is gone). He has attacked my boyfriend a few times and he has bitten (not drawn blood just scratches) a few visitors. This happens so infrequently that I am having a hard time making a decision to give him up or put him done. Yesterday we saw a veterinary behaviorist and she told us that he very liking has a neurological issue that can not be fixed, since he has no obvious triggers when he attacks. Three different vets now have told us we need to seriously consider putting him down. I love him so much but he is a serious drain on our finances with all of his issues (also has to eat only a prescription food). He is also a dog that will be unpredictable for the rest of his life and we were told this can be helped by training him to wear a muzzle so that he can still be around people. I want to make the best decision for him and I just don’t see how anyone else would ever want to take responsibility for a dog who has so many issues. I worry he will not get the love and care from someone else. We easily pay $400 a month just for his food and medicine. On top of this he could bite us or someone else at anytime. I just don’t know what to do…
Please put it down before it seriously hurts someone.
Paying for medical bills and a settlement after an attack will make $400 month seem like nothing.
I hope this doesn’t sound harsh but I can not believe you’d even consider NOT putting this dog down …. Seriously. That is a major accident waiting to happen.
Good luck with everything
I never realized there were so many others that go through this. My boyfriend and I moved in together last April, I have two dogs(male 5/female 1 altered) and he has one(male 4 unaltered). We knew it was going to be a crazy loud house with three dogs but they all got along really well the whole time we were living separately, he was bonding to my dogs and I to his. It all seemed “meant to be” and stayed that way for the first 4 -5 months. November was when his dog first bit me. We had noticed him growling at the youngest dog when it came to food and some toys, he nipped at her one time but we figure he was just putting her in her place in the pack. But then he started doing it to me and my boyfriend. My boyfriend started really getting upset. He has had his dog since birth and they had been through a lot together. I know in my boyfriends last relationship the dog was made to be an outside dog. I also know that after that relationship ended the dog was sent to live with my boyfriends father for a few months until my boyfriend got back on his feet. That is when the separation anxiety was noticed. The dog would bark and carry on like a nut when my boyfriend would leave his dads after a visit. His dog even bit his dads dog one night, as the story goes due to anxiety(I was not in the picture yet). I thought with some love and stability from living as a family and training of course that we could curb the anxiety and it would be fine, we even gave him canine CBD oil because it helps with anxiety. November things took a turn for the worst. My boyfriend immediately was talking about moving out and I was so upset to told him no, we would get his dog fixed, find a trainer, we would figure this out. Well a few weeks later another bite, this time my boyfriend and it was a hospital trip! The bite happened when the dog stole a Christmas ordainment off the tree and was guarding it from us. I found a trainer and we started walking all the dogs, by trainers request I was not to hold the leash of my boyfriends dog but to be around and watch to get my confidence back up being around the dog. We also were given a few tips on how to re-establish dominance in the house. This included a strict “no touch, no talk(other than commands) and no eye contact.” We stuck to it for a couple weeks which is when his dogs stealing things like rugs, pillows, my cell phone anything he could get his teeth on, got way worse. We cleaned up the house and made sure never to leave things on counter tops, we fired our dog walker who would come while we were at work, and told family and friends not to visit until we got this dog under control. We were so scared of him attacking someone else. I feel so dumb now and disappointed in myself for going to the extreme of making our home unlivable, just to keep this dog at bay. I love this dog…ALL MY DOGS. The other two dogs are wonderful companions all the way! Most of the time my boyfriends dog will come cuddle with me and listen when I say come or stop or sit,ect. He will not listen to “drop it” from anyone, even after the trainers advise!! Then this past sunday while I was wiping mud off of the other dog he bit me again!! That’s 3 now. We don’t exactly understand why this started, everyone got along great in the beginning. Now I have told my boyfriend that it is time for the dog to go. We just are not safe, which he already knows. I feel like it is all my fault for even trying, especially since my boyfriend wanted to move the dog away right from the first bite. Some people will probably hear this story and agree that it is my fault in some way, maybe, i don’t know. I guess I had to at least try before giving up. The thought crossed my mind if maybe there is something physically wrong with the dog or if it really is just his personality, i don’t know. I am sure of these four things though: I can no longer live in this unsafe environment, the dogs has put soooo much stress on our human relationships the past couple of months it isn’t funny, my heart is broken over all this I can’t stop crying and my boyfriend is absolutely crushed at having to either loose his dog or break off our relationship/move out. Now I am faced with is our relationship over? If not, how am I going to re-home a dog who has bitten? Who will help us? How much longer will this all go on? What if something worse happens before we are able to find a better home? Is there even a better home out there? So stressed. So heartbroken.
I’m very grateful for your post. I’m currently facing the decision to send my dog back to the humane society that I got her from. I’ve only had her for a month, but I knew after the first week we might not be the best fit. She’s a 3 year old blue heeler. They told me she was a ladies dog, she was wary of men, but loved other dogs. Unfortunately, her behavior towards most all people (other than me) I quickly found out was aggressive. She would lunge, growl, and bark. She tried to attack some of my roommates, so I started boarding her at my friends house (who has four other dogs) while I was at work. At first she was getting along just fine, then I started getting text messages about her behavior, nipping at some of her dogs, aggressively chasing another one, and trying kill one of her chickens. I didn’t want to give up on her I figure maybe I was doing something wrong so I hired a trainer. The trainer basically said the best thing to do is to manage her environment (so keep her away from people), give her treats when she meets someone, give her praise when she doesn’t bark at people, and to muzzle train her. I moved in with a family member to a small town where we would have more space and there would be less people.
We’re a week in and not much has changed. I’m still limited on times of day I can walk her because of her behavior towards people. She bit my mom, so my mom doesn’t feel comfortable around her. I found someone willing to watch her for me so she wouldn’t be cooped inside all day, but she was so aggressive towards them it was clearly not going to work.
I feel hopeless. On one hand I have people telling me I should hold in there and over time she will get better, and on the other hand I have people telling me to get rid of her before she hurts somebody. I feel guilty for not being able to control her behavior. I feel guilty for wanting to surrender her after such a short period of time. However, reading your post and the comments that followed have at least made me feel less alone in this situation.
Unfortunately, this dog was probably surrendered to the shelter where you found her for the exact same reasons you are now living through. Don’t feel bad about returning her to the Humane Society. When you decide to adopt again, bring a trainer who can evaluate personality. Just my opinion.
Go to and surrender her
L.A. Simpson
Excuse the rambling comment that is going to follow … it’s pretty much trail of consciousness and leaves much to be desired in readability.

I’ve been struggling for six years with an extremely dog aggressive dog whose triggers for human aggression seem to be growing. Six years. During this entire time, I have never thought of her as a dog I would have for the rest of her life – the idea of keeping her is honestly exhausting and something I just kind of avoid thinking about. I have tried almost continuously to find other options for her since I got her, but I am upfront with rescues, shelters, or anyone else about all of her issues. I don’t want anyone else to take in this dog who was originally surrendered at 2 years old for being “too hyper” and having the unpleasant surprise that it wouldn’t take much for her to try to kill another dog. And a person approaching her owner in the house is all it takes for her to snarl and lunge at them in an attempt to bite. I have spent more money on trainers and lessons for her than some spend on cars. And nothing seems to be making even a dent in this behavior.

And I am so tired of it, I an mentally and emotionally drained, and I don’t care that she is literally the best dog when it is just the two of us. I’ve had to move from a rural area to an urban one for work, and trying to time her walks with when no one else will be out with their dogs is nearly impossible. I can’t get a day without her lunging, snarling, foaming at the mouth … without people looking at her like she’s a monster and at me like I am insane.

I am so tired of this dog. I don’t want her, and I haven’t wanted her since the second day I got her six years ago. But it was so beaten into my head by dog crazy assholes that once you adopt a dog it’s your responsibility and if you give it up you are a failure and a monster who hates animals. At this point I could never take her to a shelter or rescue – she would end up being completely unadoptable, left with unfamiliar people in an unfamiliar environment, and then euthanized alone. And even with all of this, I am still too much of a coward to put her down by my vet because who the hell gives up after six years of trying?

You need to put your big girl boots on and stop being a doormat for this dog, you are the boss not her!!
PLEASE do not feel guilty about putting this dog down. It should definitely not be rehomed to become someone elses problem. I you are unable to manage it with training, there probably isnt anyone that can.
Please put it down before it hurts someone. Pick a random vet from the yellow pages if you have to but just do it.
Dirt nap this dog and get on with your life!
Chris Pace
i find it rather peculiar that you admit that your dominance training didn’t work, that you can’t explain why it didn’t work, and don’t ever question the effectiveness of dominance training.
I’m a qualified behaviourist by profession so i’d like to offer my two cents. If your dog growls when approached in a new home, when he is in the bed, near his canine buddy, near his food, on the sofa, etc, especially if that dog has never known such comforts before in his life, it means he is terrified of losing them. Forcing him aggressively to relinquish them confirms his fears and makes the aggression worse. A growl as you correctly say is a warning. Dogs would rather growl than bite becasue getting into a fight is risky. If you don’t listen and act appropriately the dog has no choiuce to escalate, because his calmer way to say F-off didn’t work. I would have asked you to offer alternatives whenever asking the dog to relinquish something, to never do so by handling the dog, to show him you listena nd respect his body language and to show him that there is niothing to be worried about. Not all dogs liek cuddles so cuddles for this dog would probably just make things worse, especially if beibg physically handled has become associated with losing resources. Your trainer was an idiot. When someone gives you advice that makes matters worse 1) stop following that advice, 2) question why it didn’t work 3) seek advice from someone whose actually bothered keeping up with dog behaviour research since the 80s.
You just totally described our dog, Mickey. He was a very abused dog dumped at a shelter with a leg so broken it had to be amputated. You said…”If your dog growls when approached in a new home, when he is in the bed, near his canine buddy, near his food, on the sofa, etc, especially if that dog has never known such comforts before in his life, it means he is terrified of losing them.” When we brought him home he thought his place was outside until we coaxed him into the house.

We lived in a rural area in Ohio and there were no trainers close by. We were attached to Mickey despite his personality and he was attached to my husband. His behavior was always towards me, so we figured it was a woman who hurt him. He developed diabetes at the age of 5, but he let my husband give him his shot. We loved him, we respected him, and we avoided pushing his buttons. He came to us at the age of 3 and we just had to put him down several months ago at the age of 13 because he lost the use of his back remaining leg and we were told he would never get the use back. He refused to let us help him, clean him and bring him outside to do his business. He was also blind, but that’s no reason to put him down.

This is the worst advice possible. Oh my god. “dog behaviourist” my @$$.
Oh my goodness, thank you for this article! We have a young beagle who is also showing some escalating aggression three months into our home. We have young kids and I love him dearly it I can’t deal with the possibility that he could bite them or their friends.I feel like I let him down, or that I failed him as a parent, even though I did the absolute best that I could. This helped me know to move forward. I hope he’s young enough to find the help and home he needs.
My boyfriend and I got a TWC puppy when he was just tiny because he has always coon hunted. I do not agree with keeping your dogs outside tied to a tree either, I think it’s horrible. Around 2 years later I saw another TWC on petfinder and it said “urgent” so I had to go get him. I love love love hounds. When we brought him home he was excellent to us and was just the most loving dog ever. My mom came and he freaked out, growling and trying to bite. He’s NEVER even growled at me or Brandon. I have a newborn and he hasn’t ever bothered her, but he hates anyone from outside of the house. Sometimes it makes me nervous that he might do something to Kendall when she’s older. But then again I feel like he’ll protect her. Idk what to do. It’s hard to find people around where I live to adopt coonhounds for inside dogs. I want to find him a good home but I don’t want him to have to live in a shelter and it just breaks my heart bc he loves us so much. It’s like when he saw us he just picked us for his parents. He’s never growled at any of us once, but he does have aggression towards other people.
My wife and I have a Dachshund mix, she had him before I met her and I warmed up to the dog very quickly when we started dating. We have always had issues getting him to listen to commands and getting things away from him. He also has never been good with other dogs, so we rarely let him mix with other dogs, he will suddenly snap and attack other dogs, and we always have to keep him on a leash or keep a close eye on him when family and other dogs are around. For the most part, he is a good cuddle dog and loves to be around people, but when he feels confronted and/or stressed from too much play, he will snap as well. Last year, we decided to take him to doggy training and did a lot of obedience and off-leash work, this has not curbed his aggression even though he now listens more. Over the new year, we traveled to my in-law’s place in florida, they have a dog, and my sister-in-law has one as well. My dog loves being beside us in the kitchen when we cook so he can get crumbs that fall, he has never had competition for this, but he snapped at and bit my mother-in-law’s dog. My wife and i are expecting a baby in June; we are afraid that the dog will hurt a crawling child who does not know when to stay away or pulls the wrong thing. We have talked about taking him to the shelter when the baby is born, but I do not think my wife will take it well, but we ultimately know this is what we have to do.
I am in a similar position now. We have 2 Siberian Huskies that we are going to be bringing to the local Humane Society this week. We got them before we had children and we now have a 2.5 year old and a 6 month old. We have literally spent close to $4,000 in additional training / behavior training after our children were born to try and curb their jealousy but it was no use. They will get on the table and take our children’s food if we leave the room for only a moment. They have taken food directly out of our eldest’s hands and they destroy any toy or article of clothing of the children’s that is left within reach. They will urinate or poop in their rooms only if the doors are open (they are both fully house trained). Our trainer said it may be best to crate them but we don’t feel that is a proper life for them. We think they feel they have become cramped or second fiddle to our kids even though we treat them with the same love and affection as we always have. They aren’t aggressive per se, but they will growl if you try to take whatever they aren’t supossed to have away from them. We are just afraid that growl will turn into a bite one day. We love them tremendously and I am still crying and we haven’t even surrendered yet. They are a bonded pair and we hope they can be adopted out together. They really need a family with older kids or no kids where they have their space and can be the Huskies they want and need to be. We can unfortunately no longer provide them that kind of lifestyle with our children. It was an extraordinarily difficult decision to go this route. These dogs have been our family for almost 5 years and were here before our children. However, at the end of the day, our children are our number one priority. Their safety and well being is everything, and we cannot risk that. I have to remind myself that while we love these dogs with our whole hearts, they are animals, and Huskies are pack animals at that. They have an inherited trait that all dogs do and are prone to pounce on smaller animals. If we had gotten them after we had children and raised them together, I think it would be different. We want them to have a good life, if someone ends up being bit, the only course of action at that point is euthanasia and I would feel even more guilt over that.
Huskies are famous for killing infants.
Get rid of those dogs SOON.
Go here and search Husky baby.
I am in a similar situation. I have a 3 year old lab mix. She has shown aggression this past year and it has escalated quickly. At first we got her hoping she would balance out my two male dogs. My male border collie is a bully and liked to pick on my boxer from time to time. At first she did balance out the boys. She would let the bc know that picking on the boxer wasn’t good. All she would do is stand in between the two and my bc would back down and walk away. Until one day he didn’t and she attacked. After that I have to keep her separated from the others. I have a total of 4 dogs the bc male and a pit mix female that she constantly will attack if she gets a chance. My female pit has had to have stitches, most recently I have had to go to the ER for an accidental bite. My lab mix is not aggressive toward people and not even to my boxer but just the other two. We are at our end. I have had her in obedience classes when she was just months old and does listen to her commands. All dogs are fixed. It breaks my heart but I am now thinking she would thrive better if she was in a single dog home.
My boyfriend and I adopted a dog about a week ago from a shelter. He is an American english coonhound and is almost 2 yrs old. When we adopted him they told us he had some behavioral issues but when we met him he was so sweet and seemed to warm up to us rather quickly. He had been left outside most of his puppy life and then in a shelter for the remainder. The shelter had put him in a training facility for the two weeks prior to us adopting him and his trainer said he made great progress. The trainer warned us about some issues with him growling and barking and said that with time and patience it should go away. We are going into our second week and he still growls and barks at us from time to time. He goes from being sweet wanting us to pet him and then all of the sudden growls and barks at us. It is making me uneasy in our own home. We live in an apartment and take him outside on walks all the time but I am concerned that this behavior will continue and maybe being in an apartment is not the best lifestyle for him. He also is not good with strangers and other dogs which makes it hard in an apartment. I know it has only been a short amount of time but when would we need to be concerned and think about rehoming him if this doesnt stop?
We’ve heard there are farms for dogs like this that give them a place to rehome but are struggling to find them. We feel this would be the best situation for our fur baby….for her happiness. Do you know how I can find them or is there a network somewhere? I prefer not to do the shelter if possible.
Hello! I am in the process of trying to decide whether rehome our dog. We have a 3 year old border collie mix rescue and a 12 year old lab. Both females. They were doing fairly well for a while – a few fights … but lately their fighting has ramped up. They had 5 fights in November. The fights are vicious. Our older dog has had to get stitches twice where she had to be put under anesthesia. She’s had other injuries that haven’t required stitches thank goodness. I’ve had to keep them completely separated which is so stressful – the younger dog is very nervous and tentative. Always has been. There have been many triggers so we can’t really predict. We found someone who is interested but I’m so conflicted bc I love the younger one. But is it unfair to our older dog to keep getting hurt !? I know a muzzle is an option.but I think she will hate it. As do I.
Help !
We had a dog that did this too. At first he seemed quite shy, insecure. This steadily grew into him trying to be the alpha against me in particular. He would often growl and sometimes lunge at me whenever I went near my dad. At one point my lovely Siamese cat of 11 years walked up to simply sniff the floor near him and he growled and chased her violently before I got between them to save my cat. He even bit my dad picked up a bone from the floor. I hated the dog and if he managed to kill my cat I would have gladly slit its throat myself. Thankfully my cat is safe now as the dog was rehomed. But unlike you I wasn’t given any suppprt. People called me horrible names and because my dad gave a sob story about how great the dog was bc he was in utter denial, ppl who never even met the dog attacked me verbally, saying awful things and painting me out to be a monster all because I was protecting myself, my cat, and my very young nieces who would visit and who knows what the dog would have done. They would not be able to get away whereas I could stop the dog. No way, still utterly hate the dog to this day. And I tried hard to love him too, but the day he tried to kill my beloved cat was the day he meant nothing to me.
Youre not a monster, Jacky. Please DO NOT feel bad.
Is there a number I could call to give my dog up. He’s become aggressive and I have a grandbaby on the way.
Live in Las Vegas
The Animal Foundation is your county shelter. They accept surrenders by appointment.
Once you found out you were pregnant, you absolutely did the right thing by surrendering him back to the shelter. Even dogs with no history of growling or any other form of aggression can easily turn on a baby/child. I’m thinking that the true reason that he was in the shelter to begin with was for the same reason – some sort of behavior problem. Maybe it even went beyond growling, he got surrendered and unsuspecting you and your husband adopted a problem. I know this, because it happened to us, and it was much worse than just growling.

We adopted 3 year old Mickey, a Schnauzer mix ten years ago. He was surrendered to the shelter with a long time broken leg which they had amputated before we adopted him. In fact, we picked him up from the Animal Hospital so he could recover at our home. We quickly noticed that if I sat near him he would growl. The growling turned into snarling, snapping, lunging, and finally, he bit my hand when I went to pet him. However, he absolutely adored my husband. We made the decision to keep him and basically I learned what buttons not to push (I had to not interact with him much and this was hard, because I love animals). Adopted by anyone else, Mickey would have been put to sleep, and even though he had this problem, he was very cute when he was with my husband, and it wasn’t fair to pass this problem off like it had been when we found him at the shelter. He landed with us and we were committed to him. Two years after we adopted him, he developed diabetes. With diabetes, blood sugar needs to be checked daily – absolutely impossible with Mickey. We watched for symptoms and we periodically and frequently brought him to the Vets for the testing and insulin adjustments. My husband would hold Mickey and I would come up and stand to the side and back of him to give him his shot. We always gave him a treat afterwards and he got excited when we would say time for shot and treat. Of course, being a Schnauzer mix he needed to be groomed. He was very difficult with the groomer and bit her at least once that I knew of. When we moved out of state, we took him to Petsmart to be groomed. We made it as far as the car in the parking lot when we got a call from the store to come back and get Mickey. We found him in the grooming area on one side of the room, and all the groomers cowering on the other side of the room.

At the Vet’s office they did the best they could but short of knocking him out to examine him, they were never able to give him the best thorough exam. Fast forward to last Saturday, November 24, 2018. He lost the use of his back remaining leg. We took him to the Pet Emergency and they gave him an X-Ray, said they didn’t see anything and sent us home with Tramadol and Rimadyl and told us to keep him quiet and rested. In the meantime, he hadn’t relieved himself in close to 30 hrs. We would try and take him out (with him snarling snapping, and biting) and he would just lay in the grass. Overnight he finally relieved himself, but unfortunately, it was where he was laying. When we tried to move him to clean him and his area, it was the same thing – snarling, snapping and biting. My husband put a blanket over him to move him without getting injured so I could clean up. We couldn’t take a wash cloth to him either. The next day, Monday, November 26th, we took him to our Vet and they knocked him out with a sedative to examine him (not something you want to do all the time for a Vet visit). She checked the X-Ray and saw nothing, but did say that he lost most of his muscle mass, and his leg was pretty affected by this. She noticed that his front legs were weakening too and they were knuckling under. Blood work showed some changes in kidneys and he was anemic. They told us he would never walk again. If Mickey did not have the behavior issues that he had, we would have taken him home and carried him out and around – brought him his food and water. Unfortunately, we didn’t feel we had a choice because he would not let us help him. We made the heartbreaking decision to put him to sleep. It’s been a week and I can’t stop crying and I have tremendous guilt. We have two other dogs. Maggie our 14 year old German Shepherd/Boarder Collie mix (whom Mickey had great respect for and never started in with her) and Sharlie, our Chihuahua mix (who Mickey left alone because he was also blind for the last year and did not see her). We rescued Sharlie after our Maltese Mix, Jasmine passed away (and whom Mickey use to pick on because she was so docile). Maggie and Sharlie are both adorable and affectionate sweethearts.

Anyway, thanks for letting me write this “book” it helped me put the difficulties of living with an aggressive dog into perspective.

Emily Griffib
We have a Jack RussellxYorkie called Teddy. He has always been a nervy barky dog but his aggression towards strangers and particularly to our small grandchildren is our main problem. Love him dearly and he is fine with us and other adults that he knows. Cuddly, affectionate, lively and funny and if it wasn’t for the fact that we are going to be looking after 2 toddlers soon we would carry on managing him (muzzling etc) The thought of having to have him put down is just awful but we are at a loss as to what to do. Cannot find a shelter to take him due to his aggression. Have already spent £300 on “behaviour therapy” with some success but he would still bite anyone he sees as a threat. Just feel if someone would give him a chance that doesn’t have small children around he would be make a great companion. Any suggestions would be very welcome.
Daniel Laughner
I’m in the same boat. We have a 2 year old
Pit that has been nothing but lovey until recently. She has had some anxiety but never growled or snapped until last week. And now yesterday she bit the neighbors dog on the butt. Can’t find anywhere to rehome her, and the shelters are full. I literally can’t cry anymore, it’s been none stop. We can’t keep her bc we have 3 children and she was trying to bite Ayden. Please help.
Danielle Braun
I’m so sorry. I am in the same situation with an adopted Great Dane who loves me and other tall adults but bites kids and anyone under 5’9”. He’s never broken skin but it is so dsngerous. I’m thousands into training, therapies, meds. He adores other dogs so the kennel is housing him for now but I’m trying to find a trainer or farm for him. I wish you the best.
I am in the same situation but maybe worse. Our Great Dane has attacked his older brother who is a mini schnauzer. He picked him up like a rag doll and shook him and I actually had to kick him to get him to drop him. I know have to play prison warden and rotate them in and out of crates all day so he don’t kill him and they grew up together. We had a trainer come over we did all the right things with introduction and as soon as he stepped in the door he lunged at his neck but luckily my husband had him on the leash and was able to tug so he only got his shoulder but he did draw blood. Our kids are teenagers and he loves them but have snapped at their friends so now has to be crated if anyone comes over and he growls and barks the entire time. He is fixed and we have no clue where this came from. Vet says he is healthy. We tried a muzzle but he attacks with his gigantic paws when the muzzle is on. I live in Houston TX and desperately need help. We know if we take him to the shelter they will kill him but we are so afraid he is going to kill an animal or hurt a person if we dont.
We have a 5 year old neutered blue weimaraner. He’s nipped, torn clothing and drawn blood. He is even more ‘on alert’ when my husband isn’t home and extremely protective/possessive of me and the children (8,5 and 13 mos). He will even go after me if I try to discipline my older children – he’s nipped me hard when trying to spank my son. We cannot board him and he’s starting to negatively influence our youngest dog (2 years). I’m always on edge when he’s out of his kennel and we can’t let him out when we have company; he’s proven himself to be untrustworthy in the last 5 years. My gut says to get rid of him, as nothing we’ve tried has changed his behavior for the better, but my heart breaks just thinking of doing so. My mental health is shredded and I’ve got major anxiety over the whole situation. I have never given up on a pet before and I’m extremely against doing so but I can’t continue down this road.
“He’s nipped me when trying to spank my son.” Really? You are causing your child physical pain and then angry the dog is doing the same back to you?? It’s sad the dog has to try and protect children from their abusive mother in the first place. You don’t need to be around pets or children unsupervised period. Get help before you destroy those children’s lives. Abuse causes long lasting trauma on children. You can call it whatever you want, but hitting is abuse. How would you like to be smacked every time you did something wrong?
Thanks for sharing your story. I am in a situation somewhat similar and I honestly dont know what to do. I have an 11 month cana corso. He has extreme anxiety of everything. He loves myself .my 4 year old and my spouse. But the 2 of them constantly but heads. My spouse told me he never wanted him and doesnt want to be involved with him. My pup is amazing in alot of ways.he does have some anxiety on walks but if you tell him hes all good hes normally quite good. The problem is at home my spouse and I always fight because my pup is always engaging him. Trying to get a reaction and we cant be calm in our house. My spouse doesnt not want to try anything. Is it fair to keep him because I selfously want him. If it’s time to rehome him how do you do it? Hes very attached to me. He anxious of people and he has mild hip dysplasia . I dont want to think of the bad people out there who would use him for the wrong reasons. I’m crying right now even thinking of rehoming him and hes laying beside me loving me.conforting me. I just dont know what to do. Any advice?
Kimberly, I am glad you shared your experience. Last year in November, we adopted a 10 week old female English Bulldog Mix whom we named Kona. As a puppy, she was sweet and loving, we thought we had the perfect dog. Soon after we got approval for adoption, I found out we were pregnant but it did not change my mind to welcome Kona into our home. We did basic obedient training with her when she was 4 months old and her trainer was impressed how smart she was. She has enough exercise, she gets her 40 mins a day and went to daycare twice a week. When I was in my late pregnancy, I noticed that she started barking when strangers came to pet her while I was walking her (she’s a very cute pup) but I did not think much about it, I thought she was just being protective of me.
Fast forward, our son was born in June 2018, her aggressiveness became worse. She would bark, lunge, jumped towards children at our local park and towards anyone who come to our place. We decided to get a professional help to asses her behavior, the conclusion was, even with training she thought that it would take a long time for her to fix her behavior. Having an infant child at home would not be suitable with her unpredictable behavior, she asked us to re consider to re home her.
She also got kicked out of daycare recently because she bit another dog. I have been feeling unsafe when I am home with her and my baby so I decided to contact the organization where I adopted her.
It has been hard, my husband and I have been very emotional about this, I have not stopped crying non stop for the past three days. I feel really bad about giving her up but at this point my son’s safety is my priority. I am glad I’m not alone in this situation.
Val Turner
We adopted a 4 year old dog in April. Unfortunately, we were not given truthful/accurate information from foster mom. Hailey is aggressive towards everyone that she comes in contact with, even just seeing someone during a walk gets her in a state. I’ve been researching positive reinforcement training and we have seen some improvement. However, I know she would bite someone, so I never put her in the situation while we are out for that to happen. It’s a very stressful way to live, especially living in a condo. We can never have anyone in our home or travel without her.
This morning, she was at the sliding glass door and was going to start barking at something outside. I put my foot between her and the door to shut it and she snapped at me. All her hackles were up. She was so close when she snapped at me that I could feel her breath on my foot! I was so taken back because to say my movements at the door were so non-confrontational or aggressive is an understatement! She has snapped at my husband before. She gets in that fight or flight mode and there is no distracting her.
She has started having separation anxiety when I leave in the morning. She has started peeing in our clothes. We took her to the vet and she got a clean bill of health. We’ve started her in a supplement, recommended by our vet to help w her behavior. I just realized this morning after the snapping event that I can’t trust her.
I don’t have any background on her. I just feel like she is one broken little dog.
Kimberly, thank you for writing this. I am sitting here at work feeling completely distraught and I don’t know what to do next. Your words have helped make everything a little clearer.
I adopted my dog (a questionable mix — probably part boxer, part pit, part … mystery) at the beginning of summer. (It is now mid-October.) He has always been nothing but sweet to me. We had a few challenges but we’ve gone through two sessions of training classes (beginner and intermediate and we’re signed up for the advanced class, which starts next week) and he is now a joy to walk most of the time. He knows all his commands and performs them with maybe 85% consistency.

But … (of course there is a BUT) I can’t have people to my house without him getting almost territorial and barking, snarling and (recently) lunging in a way that frankly terrifies me. I have tried everything I can think of — introducing new people outside the house, having them give him treats, giving him treats and making him sit, crating him for some time until the guests are seated and comfortable and obviously “welcome”, having people ignore the dog, and he still gets really worked up. He snarled at a young lady with some apparent special needs in PetSmart a few weeks ago, and then the last straw: last night we were at my parents’ house and he snarled and lunged at my brother’s lovely girlfriend, who he’s known since the day he came home. I am a single dog owner but I give him a lot of attention, time and love. I am home around 3-3:30 most days and then am typically home the rest of the night, so I don’t think it’s an issue of him not feeling attended to. From speaking with the trainer and a friend who is also a trainer, my guess is that it’s an issue of him feeling that he needs to protect me since I spend most of my time around him. Unfortunately however I cannot undertake the training it would need to break him of these habits. I would feel awful if he hurt anybody, and I would be liable. I think the best thing for him is a new home — maybe he needs to be with other dogs, or living with one person makes him overly protective — but 98% of the time he is all but perfect and I love him. I can’t imagine telling everyone I know that I don’t have him anymore. If anybody reads this and has any thoughts, I’d love to hear. Thank you so much.

I am so glad that I came upon your blog post today while searching online about this exact topic. We have an almost 3 year old mini australian shepherd who start showing signs of reactiveness/aggressiveness at 7 months old after we boarded her for a couple of days while on vacation. We immediately touched base with her breeder to let him know and that we had already signed her up for training to nip this behavior. The breeder suggested we not board her again (we never did and had the same family watch her when we went out of town but we have to plan our vacations around their schedule) and have her stay with friends. He stated that this breed would develop separation anxiety and this behavior would go away after she resettled back into our home. Fast forward to present day. We have spent thousands of dollars in training. We had many private lessons at home with a trainer who did clicker training. We did not see improvement and then started private lessons at a training center. Her reactive/aggressive behavior continued. We have been taking her to training closer to our home every Saturday for the last year and continue with consistent training in and outside our home. Her trainer also did private lessons at our home to work with her reactive behaviors in the home setting. She also stayed with her trainer for a week over the summer for intense training where they also practiced going on excursions to Home Depot etc. We have seen improvement but she still remains reactive/aggressive and unpredictable. She is fine with people/kids and dogs she knows. We have learned how to avoid situations such as crossing the street when going on walks when we see dogs/children at play or changing direction all together. We always feel like we are on alert when we are on walks with her and are unable to have a relaxing walk or to have conversations with passing neighbors because she will react. At home, we do not trust her with new guests especially children and she needs to be muzzled as a safety precaution. We made sure to socialize Vivie and had her go to playtime at doggie day care and had playdates for her with our neighbor’s puppy who was the same age. We also tried to familiarize her to new places, people, children, animals, feelings, smells, and sounds as much as we could aiming to keep all new experiences very positive. I also stay at home so she has never been left alone all day allowing us to ensure she is exercised and has daily mental stimulation. We have tried as much as we can and after many, many discussions we feel we need to figure out Vivie’s next step. I know reputable breeder’s have steps in place to take a dog back in cases like ours or will find it a new home. We have again touched base with the breeder and he has agreed to help find her a new home. It is definitely apparent that Vivie is protective of us. As the breeder stated “This “duty” Vivie has taken on categorizes everyone foreign to her as a threat that needs to be scared off.” As a parent, it is my responsibility to protect my children and those around them. We cannot take the chance of Vivie hurting someone. Thinking about rehoming Vivie consumes me. I fear that she will hurt someone and at the same time I fear what will happen for her and others going forward. Feeling blue.
Wow. This is almost our exact situation. We adopted a 5 month old dog three weeks ago. My husband had visited her at the shelter and she was fine, so when he was on a camping trip, my daughter and I went to pick her up. When he came home, the dog growled, lunged, and tried to bite him. Chased him down. She has gotten slightly better the past three weeks, but today he moved his feet “the wrong way” and she lunged again, went crazy. I hate feeling scared in my own house, but I am so attached to her. I’m a SAHM and she is with me all day. I know hubby can handle himself if the dog attacks him, it’s my five year old daughter I’m worried about (the dog loves her btw, but I am always hovering). We will have to return her.
Tiff R.
I have to rehome my beloved boy Mel today & I’m devastated. He’s 8 yrs old, has lots of scars on his face, was HW+ & had been at the shelter 5 months before we adopted him 7/15. We got him healthy & had the perfect scenario the 1st 6 weeks, then 1 day out of nowhere he decided he didn’t like my teenage stepson. He suddenly started growling & barking at him, then the next week bit him on the leg & bit again the week after. It wasn’t just a nip or warning, both bites broke the skin through jeans. He’s been around all different kinds of ppl & dogs & never showed any aggression & is so loving & affectionate with me, my husband & teen daughter. I talked to a behaviorist & started working with Mel after the 1st bite, but after the 2nd I had to make the heart wrenching decision to not have him in my home anymore. He’s my dog & I love him more than I ever thought I could after only 2.5 months, but my stepson is understandably scared to come out of his room & husband is mad, so I have to choose my family & their safety over Mel. At 1st I thought we’d have to put him down, but an angel who runs a rescue that’s worked with many aggressive dogs came through at the last minute & offered to take Mel into his home. I have 3 more hours with Mel before I take him to his new family. It’s going to be a long, hard, tearful day even though I know I’m making the right decision for all of us, including Mel. Thank you so much for sharing your story!
In all honesty they probably just rehomed your dog to someone else without restating his history.
My husband and I are fostering an Australian Shepherd. Looking for a new dog the owner of Harley came to our house to introduce us to Harley. Unfortunately, she did not fit into our family. But because she was living in an unsafe environment we decided to foster her and to try and find her an new home. This has turned out to be a challenge. We have been working with Harley because she was aggressive when we got her. She does not like it when people come to our home and barks at them and looks aggressive. I think really she is scared of people. It seems Harley spent a lot of time in a room and not socialized very often. We also think she has been abused. When she met my daughter she barked and lunged at her so now she and her husband will not allow my grandchildren to come to our house until Harley is gone. Therefore, I am trying hard to re-home her. She is so sweet once she gets to know you. Harley loves riding in a car and playing ball. I have to say she is getting better and better everyday, however, I really need help to train her to stop barking at people that come to our home so that she will be ready for a new home. Any help to re-home her or train her to stop barking would be appreciated.
Emma Gibson
Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your experience with Kopa and what led you to make the hardest but best decision for you and your family. My [brand new, as of Saturday] husband and I have just made the decision that we can no longer keep our 10 month old Goldendoodle, Barnaby.
He was given to us by my husband’s aunt 6 weeks ago. (Unfortunately this is not the first dog he’s taken in from her). We knew from the start that he was having some issues with posseiveness and separation anxiety. But we could not have been prepared for the dog we got.
Barnaby is the first dog we’ve had together, and I know if we had gotten him when he was a puppy we would have spent the time training him and socializing him the proper way. Instead, for 8 months, he was not trained, he was not socialized, he had a shock collar, and the aggressive behavior he began to display was never addressed. The last straw for them was when my husband’s grandmother startled Barnaby one night and he lunged at her. We had been looking into adopting dogs for a few months at this point and when offered an adorable, curly-haired puppy we jumped at the chance, confident in our ability to be consistent and get the proper help to train this dog. And for the first couple of weeks those who knew him before commented on his improvements and progress since being with us. It helped that we changed absolutely everything about our living style in order to avoid incident with him. No more throw pillows, shoes in the basement, our bedding put away every single day as that was where he spent his time while we were at work. But we noticed that anytime he had something he wasn’t supposed to or we were telling him to do something he didn’t want to do or attempting to leave the house he would become aggressive. He would guard the door and growl if we tried to get near it. He would snarl when we tried to retrieve whatever he wasn’t supposed to have, and even bit us both in the process.
A friend of ours who has trained a great number of dogs came and spent some time with him and witnessed some of this behavior, but assured us that he was trainable and that we could work with him on the aggression. And I even called and spoke with a behavioral specialist (for $75/hour I might add) and we tried to implement some new strategies. We were hopeful. But the reaction from our vet when we told her what he was doing put us right back where we started. She didn’t even need to say anything. She immediately backed away from him, consciously or unconsciously it doesn’t matter. In that moment I knew how much ground we would really have to make up for us to truly be able to trust this dog, if we ever could.
Then comes just last night. My husband shifted in bed to get up to use the bathroom. Barnaby whipped around and we heard his low growl. He was laying in front of the door. We distracted him by offering to take him out (usually does the trick) but then he refused to come back in the room for bedtime (we don’t trust him unsupervised in the house). My husband went downstairs to get him a treat to coax him in. Barnaby wouldn’t let him up the stairs again. I reached for the bedroom door handle, he turned and snarled and snapped at me. He snarled and snapped at my husband every step he took. We were all at a stalemate. Hostages in our own home. In that moment we knew that this completely unprovoked outburst was the end for us.
I knew that no matter how much money we dumped into training there was no guarantee and even if we went years without incident I would never fully trust him. I am afraid to walk near him at the wrong moment, I am afraid to pet him at the wrong moment. I don’t feel as though I could ever not be anxious around him, especially when we begin to consider growing our family. I love him SO much and know that this is NOT his fault NOR is it ours. But that certainly doesn’t make this any easier. Even though I know I was not the one who truly failed him, right now I still feel like a failure in his eyes because I couldn’t help him in the way he deserves.
I really needed to hear that we are not the only people who have gone through this process and have been forced to make the heart wrenching decision to give up their dog. There is nothing I wish more than for this not to be the case. But the current situation isn’t healthy for us and especially not for Barnaby. So Kim, thank you again for making me feel a little less lonely and a lot more confident that we are doing the right thing for all of us.
Hello, I am currently sitting here in tears and hyperventilating because I am going through the exact same thing with my dog. I just can’t make the decision to rehome him. I have now had my dog for a full year and it seems like every day he gets more and more aggressive and I am scared of him, but I also love him. This is honestly one of the worst feelings I’ve ever experienced in my life and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. How did you finally do it? Did you give him back to a shelter? Do you still check in on your dog? I just feel like I wouldn’t be able to fully let go of him, I couldn’t just give him up to someone, even if I trusted them, without being able to get updates or be able to stay in touch. I would go insane not knowing how he is doing. I just want him to be happy and live his best life and I’m scared that I’m not giving that to him, but not because I don’t love him and I’m not trying, I just don’t know what I can do to help him at this point. I’m scared no one else will be willing to take care of him due to his behavior and personality and he will be put down, which is the last thing I want.
This dog should have NEVER been given to you. It angers me that you were put through this. Some dogs are just inexplicably aggressive through no fault of ANYONE.
I received a pup 2wks ago from the shelter. It still hasn’t come around so that i will be able to take it for walks and actually touch it.
It stays in the kennel all day and doors are open so it can roam or play.
I think from a young stage the pups being in kennels and not walking around at the shelters can be very difficult for them.
I told my shelter in 3months and the dog doesnt come around I will be returning her. Its shy and very timid, it still shakes and hide.
I had the same problem years ago when considering a rescued dog Dusty for my roommate’s mom. We agreed to an overnight to see his personality. We already had a pack of dogs (6) we’d rescued over time consisting of 3 chow chows, a german shephard mix, rottie mix and american terrier. All the dogs were fixed and non-aggressive. They were use to welcoming new members to the pack so we felt comfortable introducing Dusty. He was a very docile chow chow to the degree he seemed almost a bit slow but we thought that would be great for her mom since she was already a senior herself. At one point we heard barking from the smallest of the chows in our pack and Dusty was cowering on the floor – Dusty was a larger dog but he seemed terrified of the the little one. We felt terrible and shuttled all the dogs in the house and kept Dusty away so he could recover. We had kennels for all the dogs so they were truly away from Dusty. We had to go to bed since it was late already and we made Dusty a spot next to the sofa and loosely anchored his leash with a chair. The next morning when we came down Dusty was feral he growled at us when we tried to approach and actually snapped toward us. There was no alternative but to call the rescue we had gotten him from which was a personal friend we’d gotten another one of the pack from. It truly broke our hearts because this was his third strike, he had already been somewhat aggressive before so we know in all likelyhood he’d be put down. But sometimes you just have to understand that doing the right thing can feel awful and even have side effects you definitely don’t want to be responsible for initiating. But ultimately this dog was already showing signs of aggression and rather than keep making it harder for this animal being shuttled from shelter to home it was a decision the rescuer had to make. They’re not all here forever, they bring a lesson sometimes and that is all. This is a hard lesson but pat yourself on the back for navigating it with clarity and sanity amid the hurt. Smile when you think of Kopa, you gave your 110% and can be satisfied knowing he’s finding his way to the right place for him 🙂
Kimberly, thank you for sharing this. We have a beautiful catahoula bulldog, who is now 1.5 yo. We got her at 3 months. She started growling last fall and now will have frequent aggressive behaviors – attacking us at times, everyone in my household (we are all adults) and one of our other dogs who is much bigger than her. She has so many wonderful moments, loving, playful and then she will turn, sometimes we cannot figure out what triggered her but it is unpredictable. I am currently working with a behaviorist but we are all tired of the behavior. I have begun to think that we can no longer keep her and the thought of bringing her back to the shelter where we got her makes me so sad. She is so fearful of the vets, she will sit as close as possible to me when she goes, even to stores (where she is allowed). She is my baby, honestly. She has my heart and that is why I have hung in so long, but I can see the stress it has placed on my family members and our other two dogs, who have no issues. I am scared they will not be able to rehome her, she has bitten, not fully punctured. I fear that if I leave her at the shelter, she will be traumatized all over again. I don’t even know if that makes sense. This is one of the hardest things I have ever had to consider. When I adopted her, it was forever, I committed myself to her happiness and to loving her. However, I also love my family and I have a commitment to them and the two dogs we had before her. Everyone is walking on egg shells around her, wondering when the next time she will be aggressive. I have two more things I am going to try. The behaviorist wants to try her on a mood stabilizer (I am willing to try anything) and I want to get her into some type of training to give her a job – nose works was suggested. If we don’t see a significant decrease in behavior soon, I will have to give her up. Thank you for helping me see that even though she has times of happiness, she may not be truly happy.
Tore N Fjelldal
Of course this is not easy, and we love our dogs, but in my opinion you have let this develop too far. Either you can make the dog turn safe this summer with help from a specialist/dog trainer, or you just keep the dog because of love, not reason (but should send it away). Too many dog owners loose their head for love, and make millions of excuses to why the dog behaves like it does, and that the situation is the problem, not the dog. Sorry for being cruel!!!
Amy Wilson
Your dog is unsafe and aggressive. It really doesn’t matter why. Put her down. Don’t pass the decision on to someone else. You know what the right choice is.
You failed at being a dog owner, congrats.
Tiff R.
Stevey, congrats to you as well for failing to be a decent, considerate human being.