They are dangerous to themselves and others and thus are living a poor quality of life in solitude via extreme management measures. A behavior consultant and your veterinarian can help to guide you through the decision.
You’ll want to make these types of decisions in conjunction with your veterinarian and a certified canine behavior consultant. It is important to consider your living situation and the resources you have to offer when deciding whether to euthanize an aggressive dog.
Level 2 : The dog actually bites the victim and achieves tooth on skin contact, but causes no puncture wound. Level 3 : The dog’s bite penetrates the victim’s skin, but the wound is shallower than the length of a canine tooth.
Because of the clamping and pressure applied, the wounds are deeper than the length of a canine tooth. Generally speaking, the more severe or frequent the bites are, the more likely you’ll have consider euthanizing your dog.
However, if your dog is truly not giving any warning signals or there are no discernible patterns to his aggressive behavior, it can be incredibly difficult to manage him and to ever feel truly safe. This could result in a dog who spends the majority of his time kenneled for preventative measures, decreasing his quality of life.
It isn’t an easy thing to talk about, but size matters when considering behavioral euthanasia. Clearly a large German shepherd or cane torso can do much more damage than a papillon.
When trying to decide if euthanasia is appropriate, it’s important to consider the consequences of caring for an aggressive dog. Ultimately, in the United States and many other Western counties, our dogs are considered property.
That means we are financially, emotionally, morally, and legally responsible for their actions. In a best-case scenario, a minor bite could be simply startling and painful.
It may not cause punctures or bleeding, but perhaps bruising and broken trust. Minor bites might also cause small punctures, and it’s important to visit your doctor in order to have the wound properly cleaned and tended to.
This could result in very serious wounds, including lacerations, severe bleeding, or broken bones. In extreme cases, these injuries could ultimately lead to the victim’s death.
Unfortunately, the trauma of an injury goes far beyond the physical wounds and may scar our minds forever. Some states may also impose a more stringent specification called “strict liability”.
This strict liability law may also mean that you will be liable regardless of whether the person who was bitten was trespassing on your property or not. There is no one size fits all answer to whether someone should euthanize their dog for behavioral reasons.
Always speak with your veterinarian and certified behavior consultant before you make any decision. You will need to decide if you have the resources to both manage your dog and to be able to work on a treatment plan.
It can also be very expensive to work with your behavior consultant and veterinary team. Online behavior consultations can bring down costs considerably, but for extreme cases of aggression, in-person work is often preferable.
There are a lot of variables to consider when living with a severely aggressive dog. It is important to consider the costs and benefits of living in a home with these types of serious behavioral issues.
It could be genetics, and sadly, there’s not much we can do about that other than to continue to push for better breeding regulations. If your senior dog has suddenly become unpredictably aggressive in part due to a cognitive decline at the age of 13, you may decide that he has had a great life until this point and there is likely only going to be regression from here on out.
An older Lhasa also may be quite content to stay on his property for the rest of his life and enjoy your company solely. But a young husky may find this kind of life very depressing and stressful.
These are tough questions to face, but they are imperative to help guide you through this very emotional decision. It is entirely possible that a change in circumstance or environment may be helpful, or that behavior modification and medications might be the best route along with solid management strategies to keep everyone safe.
But it is important, first, to choose someone who is very qualified with aggression cases and follows a scientific and modern approach to behavior modification. Over time, these techniques can be successful in helping your pup to change his reflexive negative emotional reactions to something more positive and to teach him alternative coping strategies.
There are several types of pharmaceutical products out there, from that may help with the underlying fear or anxiety related to your dog’s aggressive behavior. To work with any aggressive dog, a great muzzle is a key tool to keep everyone safe.
Sometimes, an otherwise friendly dog can get overenthusiastic and bite a human playmate, or a puppy that isn’t yet fully trained can nip at a petting hand. Treatment can be extensive, frequently including significant procedures like plastic surgery or lengthy courses of physical therapy.
Dog bite injuries can be especially harmful to children, often causing permanent scarring, debilitation, and necessitating long-term, ongoing treatment. A person who experiences a dog bite may also suffer from short or long-term mental or emotional distress, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), in addition to physical injuries.
This is not the case in New Jersey; owners are responsible for injuries caused by dogs regardless of whether it has any history of violence or known aggressive tendencies. Once a victim reports a claim against a dog to New Jersey Animal Control, the division conducts an investigation into the circumstances of the occurrence.
Reporting an incident is essential to both preserve public safety and ensure that you are able to legally pursue proper compensation for your injuries. Any dog can show aggressive behavior and has the potential to cause injury to children and adults alike.
If you are a dog owner, make sure you keep your animal under control at all times, both in public and on your own premises, even if it has never shown aggressive behavior. The lawyers at the Mark Law Firm can help you establish the value of your dog bite injuries and determine how best to recover your damages.
I pulled back and fell down half a flight of steep stairs. My head ended up in the bottom level of an open-sided end table.
Had I hit my head on the top I could have broken my neck and become a quadriplegic like my mother had been? The vet who euthanized him said I looked like I'd been in a bar fight.
“If he were healthy, you wouldn't be here this morning,” she said, and I knew she was right. I have no doubt that ending his life was the right thing to do.
I had been working with Dodger for months on his aggression. Three months before that fateful night, my 42-pound, 9-year-old English setter had bitten me three times in two seconds; he left six wounds on my forearm under a sweatshirt after I petted him on his back.
He had a thorough medical work up, and went on the anti-anxiety medication clomipramine after no physical cause for his behavior change was found. I called in a certified trainer, a woman highly experienced in dog aggression.
When she arrived, she said, “I cannot guarantee he won't bite again.” Dodger seemed to be getting better and although he'd snapped at me a few times he hadn't broken skin.
I thought his bite inhibition was back, and that as long as I didn't startle him, it would be okay. Being attacked by someone you love is a visceral slam to your gut.
Your body shakes, and your heart pounds as the instinctive fight-or-flight response is set off. I cried that night as I iced my face, wishing I could ice half of my body.
Being bitten by my own dog was a traumatizing event, a betrayal of trust by a beloved canine who’d always slept on my bed. Dodger had been anxious enough when he arrived five years ago to wear down a path in the backyard within three days.
Exercise was never lacking, as we frequently went to fenced, off-leash dog parks. However, last winter I noticed he was much more anxious than he used to be.
Every time he had gotten in his former owner's way, she kicked him, and then she kicked him when she shoved him into the kennel. Dr. Ouster consulted with veterinary behaviorists who told her she could not cure Sherman, and that all she could do was improve his behavior and try not to put him in any situation where he could cause harm.
Three months later, Sherman attacked her 8-year-old son's foot, leaving eight puncture wounds. It was his fourth bite and by far the most aggressive and unprovoked.
Sherman was euthanized. Eight years later, Dr. Ouster still struggles with the guilt of putting Sherman's needs above the safety of her children.
“I will never forget the sounds of his attack and my child screaming,” she said. “He taught me that some animals are wired wrong and cannot be fixed, just like some people.
From where I'm sitting, too many people make excuses for repeat offenders, no matter if the cause is medical or otherwise, rather than actually addressing the problem even if it’s escalating. They wait until a disaster transpires.
What I realized later, through my grief, was that I'd been walking on eggshells around him and that relief was a big part of my emotional response. In the first few days anger was a large part of it: That he suffered from anxiety, because I could have broken my neck, because I will never again see his stunningly graceful run.
I struggle with his unhappiness despite all my efforts, and I wonder when or if that will ever end. A rip in my soul feels like it might never heal.
In my sadness I turned to Dr. Michele Gaspar, both a veterinarian and human therapist. “There are some dogs who are mentally ill, either due to genetics, trauma or their development,” she said.
“I appreciate the effort that people put into understanding them, but some of these dogs just never are normal. I don't think meds would have helped Dodger.
Dr. Gaspar said she is increasingly intolerant of dogs and cats with behavioral issues, but it seems to her that as a society we try to overcome these issues in pets more than we do with people. He won't ever bite anyone else, simply because he can’t.
Children can be allowed in my house again, and I won't ever be sued because Dodger hurt someone. Nor will he get turned away by my veterinary clinic because he bites the staff.
These are the things I tell myself when I’m trying to feel better. The frightening statistics for dog bites account for a lot of fear and hateful feelings about dogs.
Bitten children, the most common victims, often grow up to be afraid of dogs. Bites affect people who work with dogs : boarding kennel operators and pet-sitters, trainers, rescue group volunteers, and veterinary staff.
“In all the years I have worked in a veterinary clinic I have never been bitten in the face (before today). It created a fear I don't think I have ever dealt with.
The complete lack of warning from the dog has left me very insecure. I have been bitten and scratched a lot in the last 25 years, but never have I felt so small and vulnerable as I did today.
Seeing those teeth coming at your face and having absolutely no control creates an emotional experience that you can't imagine or describe.” You can’t imagine or describe it, but if you’d lived it, her words ring true.
That day nearly three years ago changed the way Dr. Ruby practices. She keeps her head and face at a safer distance, only approaches a dog from the side where she has plenty of opportunity to back off quickly, and uses muzzles more often.
“I am definitely jumpier than I used to be, which can be embarrassing,” she said. What I have never understood, even before Dodger came into my life, was how people could keep dogs who bit people or other animals repeatedly and just live with it.
I also believe it is wrong to turn the dog over to a shelter or rescue, and even worse not to disclose the truth about aggressive behavior. There’s enough bad stuff in the world that people cannot control; sending along a dog who will hurt someone is a moral failing.
Imagine what you would feel after your aggressive dog mauled a toddler’s face. Imagine what you would feel if a stranger’s dog attacked you or your child.
Wouldn’t you wonder, forever, why the dog’s owner didn’t do something about the dog’s escalating behavior when they could have? I don’t have to wonder about that anymore.
As I continue to sort through and address my feelings about Dodger, what I could have done and what I finally did, I am secure in knowing that ending his life was the right thing to do. “Death is the ultimate loss but not the ultimate harm,” said Dr. Gaspar.
It's been exactly one year since I euthanized Dodger, which was one of the worst episodes of my life. I'm thankful to everyone who has written.
I've had lengthy back channel conversations with several commenters. All too often, though, I don't answer individual comments because they slice into my sorrow and keep it fresh; I can't answer for the sake of my own mental health.
My pain has eased greatly, but it is still nearby, as though all that's needed to unleash it is to open a cabinet. This subject is filled with angst and guilt, not to mention shame at a perceived inability to “train” the aggression out of a beloved dog.
Some of our solutions involved ending the life of someone we love with all our heart in order to protect others and ourselves. I cringe every time I read about another mauling by a dog, and I wonder if the owners of those maulers experience the massive guilt and regret that I would.
I could not live with myself if my dog hurt someone that way. Thankfully, I never felt guilty about euthanizing my boy, and did not regret my choice; this is not the case for everyone.
Then and now, I didn't feel as though it was a choice; it felt like something I had to do. Because of his protectiveness of that stairwell landing, he would have lunged at me again, and the kind of luck I had walking away from that fall is not going to happen twice.
I still don't understand how I walked away the first time, landing crumpled up and passed out inside an end table with a painful and swollen body. The physical scars are fading, and some emotional ones are too, but it takes longer than we think it will.
Whenever I see someone with an English setter, I stop and ask if I can pet it. We must keep our hearts and souls intact.
I still cry remembering Dodger's head resting on my knee and looking deeply into my eyes: connecting, bonding, trusting. It's the behavior of his I miss the most, although I deeply loved his silly sense of humor.
Needless to say, I never miss being afraid of him, and I recall well why I chose to euthanize him. But that doesn't mean I can't take pleasure in remembering the aspects that made me happy: the way he'd greet visitors with a toy; the gentle way he took treats; the games he loved to initiate; his incredibly graceful and swift running; his look of joy and anticipation on his way to the dog park.
Enough grains have shifted in my sand clock that these memories are the ones surfacing more often, rather than the other ones. Time is a good healer, and I am thankful beyond measure for that.
Two years after I euthanized Dodger, his behavior still affects my household. The cat he chased continues to live a life of stress-induced veterinary care.
The stress didn't cause his physical issues, but it exacerbates them. His temperament is permanently altered, and not for the better.
Dickens was here first, and he gave “mellow and friendly” new meaning. The day they were allowed out loose together, Dodger bolted to him while barking in a frenzy.
It's surprising to other people, but I still don't have a successor dog. I'm the type who usually finds a new companion within a month or so of losing one; I typically have a strong ability to move on.
My friends and family expected me to have a new dog in no time. If they did, the answer would be that I don't know: maybe tomorrow, maybe never again.
Most importantly, I don't trust my ability to make a good choice because I made such a mistake last time. In the middle of the night, when fear rises like tendrils of smoke, I'm afraid I will choose another aggressive dog.
The unresolved grief is familiar. My mother died the week I turned 15, and decades later I often miss noticing her birthday or the date of her death, even though it's so closely linked to my birthday.
While I still miss her, I think of good times with her, and someday I will only think of Dodger's sense of humor. I love my boy.
I hope he rests in peace. It's been a long time since I felt the stabbing, aching grief that accompanied my choice to euthanize my aggressive dog.
Time heals most wounds, and in this case it has. My heart swells with more joy than I thought would be possible when I see a photo of him.
I am now able to think about him without falling apart, without tears, without regrets, although I never forget that I have experienced this misery; it was one of the worst episodes of my life. I don't cry any more when I see other English setters, although I ask if I can pet them.
I still dream of his graceful running through acres of lush, green land, as though he was in low gear but contemplating a switch to high gear: his loping merely hinted at the speed he could pull out at any moment. He was bred to run races, and he loved running more than anything in the world, even me.
I think of the day he took a dip in a silt pond and came out looking like a happy Creature of the Black Lagoon, or his good times with mud. When I think about the moment he bit my forearm three times in three seconds, and the six small puncture wounds he left, my stomach doesn't clench.
I don't even have much of an emotional reaction to the thought of being lunged at prior to falling down half of a steep stairwell, which could have killed me. It's more along the lines of “Yeah, that was so horrible, one of the worst days of my life.
These days it's a tale of long ago, an anecdote of my past. No successor has followed him, and another dog isn't even in the picture.
My dog Rita remains happy as a pig in mud. My cat Dickens still suffers from stress-induced bouts of colitis (translation: diarrhea everywhere), the latest just two weeks ago when I had the audacity to come home reeking of a litter of kittens; Mr.
Sensitive acted out, and about 24 hours later he had a raging fit of colitis. He likely has irritable bowel syndrome, caused by stress rather than inflammation, and I still think it's all related to how afraid Dickens was of Dodger, a beast four times his size with a penchant for bowling over cats.
The best part is that I no longer feel like I can't trust myself to select another dog. When Dickens is no longer here, I will get another dog.
For a while the level of fresh grief it brought was difficult, a bit like salt on an open wound. Today, it's the sameness of what commenters say that disconcerts me, and sometimes numbs me: “I didn't think he was actually aggressive until he ...;” “I was sure we could keep him confined when other people came over;” “I love this dog so much;” “I thought it was always a reaction to something I'd done;” and the worst: “He's bitten nine people, and twice someone had to go to the hospital, but I don't think he's that bad.
He's wonderful most of the time.” In a way, for those of us who love dogs that become aggressive, it seems to boil down to a deep love of a dog who behaves wonderfully the vast majority of the time, but sometimes has this problem, and it seems to be getting worse.
The hardest part is when people couch the question if I think they should euthanize their dog. Here's my blanket response: each family is solely responsible for that decision.
Listen to the advice of someone who has actually seen the dog: your veterinarian or your veterinary behaviorist (while there are no veterinary behaviorists in some geographic areas, in this scenario they are preferable). As with a lot of things in veterinary medicine, what can be done, what should be done, and what is reasonable to do are moving targets and dependent on such factors as local resources, owner finances, family size/dynamic, size of dog, and frequency/degree of aggression.
Young-adult, mid-size dog with sudden onset of one or two mild to moderately aggressive moves (growls, snaps, bit when food bowl was moved). Affluent, healthy, dog-experienced owners.
I went up the stairs where he watched me from the landing. I was about halfway up when he lunged on the left side of my face, so I reflexively turned to the right and fell backwards, then twisted and hit the right side of my face on the opposite wall.
In scenario A, an extensive medical workup, medication trial, behavioral consults would all be reasonable and probably should happen. In scenario B, even if the owners scraped together the money, someone could get mauled or killed before any of those steps could kick in.
And yet if you talk to employees of a veterinary clinic, the folks who have to deal with aggressive dogs every day and have the scars that go with the danger of their job, they will often tell you that there are plenty of nice dogs out there who need a home, and why would you go through all that effort to keep an aggressive dog and walk on eggshells all the time? When the veterinary technician said that to me, I caught my breath and thought what a terrible thing that was to say.
The reasons to euthanize or not are a moving target, and little about this topic is clear-cut. It's a topic constituting a hundred shades of gray and not much black and white.
I believe that if your dog has inflicted enough physical damage to send someone to the ER, or has mauled or killed another dog, it's time to act definitively. I'm more than lucky I didn't break my neck on that fall down the stairs after he lunged at my face, and it is sheer grace that I got up and walked away with only bruises and a limp to show for it.
My wish for every one of us is the love of a non-aggressive dog without any need for us to walk on eggshells. May that love be with us all, and if not with this dog, then another one.