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 rescue 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?

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Growing up, Kimberly used to get the sniffles when she was around dogs. Thankfully, she grew out of her allergy and is now able to play and snuggle with dogs as much as she wants! She and her husband adopted Sally, a four-year-old hound mix, in early 2017, and she has brought so much joy into their lives. Life as pet parents has been very rewarding.

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Leah
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
Anny
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.
Jenny
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?

tyler
It is unethical to “rehome” that dog. have it euthanized. Aggressive dogs have no place in society.
Sekhmet
You did the right thing. Taking chances with an infant on the way would be crazy.
Bob
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.

Katrina
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.
jayne
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.
Jaimie
Rango
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…
Bob
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.
H.T.
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.
Favi
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.
Jayne
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.
Robin
Go to akc.org 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?

Robin
You need to put your big girl boots on and stop being a doormat for this dog, you are the boss not her!!
Anastasia
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.
Bob
Please put it down before it hurts someone. Pick a random vet from the yellow pages if you have to but just do it.
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.
Jamie
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.

Annie
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.
Payden
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.
wally
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.
Jaycee
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.
Bob
Huskies are famous for killing infants.
Get rid of those dogs SOON.
Go here and search Husky baby.
Allison
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.
Sara
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?
Amber
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.
Carole
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 !
Jacky
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.
Anastasia
Youre not a monster, Jacky. Please DO NOT feel bad.
Cindy
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
Anastasia
The Animal Foundation is your county shelter. They accept surrenders by appointment.
Jamie
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.
Ashley
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.
ELS
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.
Ami
“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?