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I have to re-home my reactive dog - I am not the right owner for he

(37 Posts)
RosieSW Wed 15-Jun-16 05:22:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

georgedawes Wed 15-Jun-16 07:34:29

To ensure honest I'd pts. I know that sounds awful, but the chances of a dog that has bitten finding a good home are extremely small when so many 'good' dogs are waiting for forever homes. I'd be very concerned you were just passing the problem on. Sorry if that's not what you want to hear.

Greyhorses Wed 15-Jun-16 07:40:36

Hi RosieSW

I have lots of experience of this as I have a fear aggressive GSD and have gone through most things at least once. Mine is similar to yours and is fearful from early experiences which happened as a very young puppy.
Reactive dogs generally aren't always aggressive but act impulsively and that's how people get hurt, so she may not be aggressive in the traditional sense but still she should be muzzled and under control when out or you could end up in an even worse situation if she hurts a dog or someone (or you!) are caught up in it.

It has been a very long, expensive and hard thing to deal with. 12 weeks isnt long in the grand scheme of things but what I found was that I had to adjust my expectations and accept the dog for what she is. This was the best piece of advice I ever got from a trainer, some dogs just are damaged and realistically reversing it is hard. Mine is 12 months into training and still isn't there yet.

I work with dogs and have seen people take dogs like this with visions of having the perfect family pet with some love and affection but the reality is not like that for most reactive dogs sadly. In my opinion dogs like this cannot ever be rehabilitated to be like a normal dog. She might be able to get to the point where her behaviour is socially acceptable but she will proberbly always be reactive and this theory was confirmed by a leading vet behaviouralist.

I finally realised after many tears and eventually someone being nipped by her that I would have to adjust my life to suit her rather than her to suit my life which isn't ideal but its the only way to keep everyone happy and safe.

It wasn't the vision I had of strolls on the beach and sitting in cafes with a dog at my feet but sometimes things don't work out the way you hope. If something stresses her out I simply don't do it where possible as it makes reactions worse, so for example she hates dogs so I won't take her to parks where dogs are which restricts my life massively! Also every experience reinforces the behaviour as they get an adrenaline rush from it, so if she chases she enjoys it and does it again and it's a vicious cycle. Same with dog reactivity...they are scared or unsure, bark, are pulled away from the other dog and have achieved what they wanted (the dog going away) and repeat the behaviour.

I had lots of success with BAT training and now can pass people/animals and most dogs without reaction but this has taken well over a year of working with a qualified behaviouralist to achieve at a cost of £100s if not more. Still, if she is scared then she will react so she has learnt to improve the behaviour but not get rid of it.

What im trying to say is that its not wrong to decide that it is too much for you and rehome (or euthanise if you can't find somewhere for her) if you think living with a dog like this for the next 10 years isn't right for you. You will proberbly get people saying you need to try harder and she might be normal but you need to prepare that she might never be the dog you want. Dogs like this aren't generally happy dogs, they find life very stressful and kennels or busy areas aren't the type of place they do well in.

German shepherd rescue are fantastic and have some great foster homes and will take dogs with issues so are worth contacting.

If you are going to keep her for the time being I would seriously consider muzzling her to protect her more than anything as if she does get away you will be liable. I would also look for something that means you can hold her, a decent headcollar or something. I use dogmatic and it's never failed! If you can't control her in a flat collar you need something else smile
I would also contact a behaviouralist (not vet) who can help give you an assessment of the dogs problems so you can decide if you can and want to work through them or if she is better off rehomed.

I'm really sorry your going through this though, it is awful. I hope I don't sound too negative or harsh but I wish someone had told me the reality from the begininng and not listened to the people who believe you can erase a lifetime of abuse with a few kisses. I love my dog and she is fantasticly behaved and loving at home which is her saving grace but if I knew then what I do now I don't think I would have ever taken her in the first place! My dog has a great life but my life is restricted to ensure hers is stress free. Would I do it again, absoloutley not sad

tabulahrasa Wed 15-Jun-16 07:41:16

She doesn't necessarily need a different home, she needs work preferably with a behaviourist, but there's no reason why that couldn't be with you if you want to keep her.

WeAllHaveWings Wed 15-Jun-16 07:47:33

Please help me to make the right decision. Do you want to rehome or train her?

12 weeks is not a long time for a reactive dog, but she obviously needs a lot of training and that will require time, commitment and possibly money.

I assume, as she was mistaken for a fox, that she is quite small? Have you tried a harness/headcollar to help redirect her strength when she tries to pull? She doesn't need open fields as she should not be off lead until her behaviour/training issues are resolved.

Do you have the time/funds for a professional trainer?

If you cant commit to the time to train her it is the right decision to rehome responsibly, but do very carefully and make sure whoever takes her on next is fully aware of the issues and the time they will need to invest in her so they are 100% committed to her this time. Her next home needs to be her forever home.

Alisvolatpropiis Wed 15-Jun-16 09:44:47

I have the same issue. I would rehome the dog responsibly but my husband wants to do the training with her. She's a lovely dog but I know she will never be normal and I find it so disheartening, never known a dog like her. I used to sing the praises of rehoming rescue dogs but I don't think I'd do it again.

RosieSW Wed 15-Jun-16 12:34:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

IsItIorAreTheOthersCrazy Wed 15-Jun-16 14:23:00

As previously suggested, can you look at GSD rescue charities? I ask as my MIL works with several different charities and now has several dogs that were deemed too unstable / aggressive / reactive to be homed. She is very skilled with them and previously worked as a behaviourist. As PP said, she makes adjustments for them rather than expecting them to be relaxed easy dogs but they get along fine with her, her horse and her cat now!

Also, I have a reactive dog. A patter dale terrier who is quite old now. We were at a loss with her for a long time. With guidance and lots of work, she is now manageable when we take her out. I refuse to take risks so if we are out she is muzzled and although she has fantastic recall, she doesn't get off lead unless we are completely secluded.
It is hard. I wanted a dog that would mooch along beside me, fetch a ball/frisby and cuddle on my feet. And she does, at home. It's taken years for me to accept her as she is but she's not a bad dog.

I don't envy you for the decision you have to make, but please contact some charities and get all your options before deciding anything flowers

NeedACleverNN Wed 15-Jun-16 14:32:51

A GSD/Belgian shepherd is quite a big dog with the potential for a nasty bite.

Yes he did bite in defence for being hit bit unfortunately he has the capacity of doing a potentially dangerous bite. He could kill a small dog. He could seriously harm a small child if they were in the way.

If you do choose to keep her you need to muzzle her out of the house the whole time.
You need to find a harness where you can exert some control over her so she can't leg it. If you can't cope then please speak to a GSD rescue centre but you may need to face the fact that being PTS is not the worse thing in the world

Branleuse Wed 15-Jun-16 14:43:30

id pts sadly. Shes unlikely to get rehomed, and shes a liability.

Greyhorses Wed 15-Jun-16 14:57:46

If you can't control her then I wouldn't be walking her at all until you sort out a way to do it safely and never without a muzzle. I'm not sure why your neighbours would kill her if she is nowhere near them and muzzled as she can't do anything other than bark. confused

The problem is finding someone to take a dog like this and they often sit in kennels for a long time getting more and more stressed sad it will take someone a long long time to get her comfortable outside, 12 weeks is just the very beginning and she isn't listening because she's worried so you need to go back about 10 steps and start from the beginning.

I know if it was my dog I would PTS rather than put her in the position of being kenneled and beside herself but it's a tough call and one I wouldn't like to make.

KoalaDownUnder Wed 15-Jun-16 14:57:54

Your neighbours sound like complete arseholes. Of course she's going to bite if she is restrained and thumped!

The poor animal was kept in a kitchen for 2 years; it's going to take more than 12 weeks to reverse the effects of that.

Please try to find a rescue who will take her on. She deserves a chance at a happy life, not to be put to sleep because done humans are brutes.

(I am not having a go at you, btw. I can see you are doing your absolute best. But cruelty to animals makes me very angry. angry)

tabulahrasa Wed 15-Jun-16 15:39:30

I use a headcollar and front fastening harness with a double ended lead...the headcollar stops the worst of the lunges (it's a rottie I have, so on a collar absolutely he'd just drag me along with him) and it means I have his entire front end under control. The double ended lead means there's no end to drop and it doesn't matter if it gets twisted because it's all the same lead.

His muzzle then fits over the headcollar (you have to be fussy about which one you use, but some do fit).

Might help in the short term? It might not because obviously you'd need to train her to wear a headcollar, but I really find it much better for taking away the power of the lunges.

RosieSW Wed 15-Jun-16 16:24:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RosieSW Wed 15-Jun-16 16:30:14

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KoalaDownUnder Wed 15-Jun-16 16:33:53

You are doing the right thing - very kind of you. flowers I hope she finds the right family for her.

Please don't worry that she has no chance; I adopted my girl from a rescue, and they openly said they didn't think they'd ever find her a home (she had lots of issues similar to yours). She is the most loved and happy dog imaginable. X

RosieSW Wed 15-Jun-16 17:01:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NeedACleverNN Wed 15-Jun-16 17:10:25


You are doing the right thing

If it wasn't for your neighbours you could have persevered and turned her behaviour right round but the dog would always sense your nervousness around your neighbour so would always be on guard around them

RosieSW Wed 15-Jun-16 17:39:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RosieSW Thu 16-Jun-16 19:08:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NeedACleverNN Thu 16-Jun-16 20:05:12

But just think she's safe now.

No more aggro for your from your neighbours and no worries that they could break into your home and kill your dog

KoalaDownUnder Thu 16-Jun-16 21:08:09

OP flowers
They will be kind to her - they are staffed by people who love dogs.

Bless you for doing the right thing by her.

RosieSW Fri 17-Jun-16 14:16:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

InternationalHouseofToast Fri 17-Jun-16 14:26:27

If you failed her, how come the new (hopefully) owners will know all about her and know that she can cope with horses? You have cared for her as best you can and have passed her on to a home you could only have dreamed of for her. That is not failing her.

The person who failed her kept her in a kitchen for 2 years.

big hugs to you, it must be so hard. You were brave to give her away to a fresh start.

KoalaDownUnder Fri 17-Jun-16 14:59:43

No no no, you didn't fail her. Please don't think that.

I just read your latest post and it brought tears to my eyes. That dog has been do loved and well looked after by you. It sounds as if she now has a chance somehere lovely.

As for letting her lead slip: my dog has slipped my grasp 3 times now. It's pure luck that she hasn't got herself into worse trouble. It's very tricky when you have escape-artist dogs who are also reactive and strong (and fast)!

Big hugs.

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