Mumsnet does not check the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you're worried about your pet's health, please speak to a vet or qualified professional.
This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Considering putting dog to sleep(140 Posts)
Please don’t flame me. I’m heartbroken just a thought of this but my dog is aggressive and I’ve tried everything. I’ve worked with 2 different trainers since we got him at 8 weeks old. His dog aggression started at 8 months, our old trainers methods wasn’t working so we sought a new one 6 months ago. His overall obedience is perfect. But his aggression has only gotten worse. He’s now growling/lunging at anyone who tries to talk to us on walks. He’s been muzzled since he bit both me and my partner after re-directing his aggression from other dogs onto us. He’s restricted to his crate most of the time in the house because he’s scared of outside noises so has to be on a lead and supervised whenever he’s out of the crate. We can only walk him on our street because he’s too nervy/reactive for other public places. This was only supposed to be short term until he improved and realised he doesn’t have to be so scared of everything, but it’s been going on for months and he has no quality of life. He’s constantly on alert and reacting to things. I feel like his aggression is worsening instead of improving.
I’m now considering having him put to sleep for his own benefit because I feel guilty that he has no quality of life. I have children who are not allowed around him unsupervised but they love him to bits and will be as heartbroken as me.
He is a lovely dog when he’s not scared and loves affection. I feel bad because I know it’s not his fault he’s like this. It’s probably a genetic issue given that we’ve tried everything and there aren’t any improvements.
What do I do? If I do have him put to sleep, do I just book him in the vets? Will they agree or make me feel guilty?
Any help/advice appreciated.
You say you've worked with two different trainers. What about having a word with a qualified behaviourist as a final attempt at helping him?
I wouldn't 'flame' you if you had him pts if absolutely nothing can improve for him. Tbh it doesn't sound as if he's got much quality of life, which is all that dogs have really.
Because I don’t believe a behaviourist could help more than our current trainer who has successfully rehabilitated hundreds of aggressive dogs. He came highly recommended and we’ve had the most improvements with him as opposed to our last one.
I second a behaviourist and also a consultation with your vet to check your dog over in case there is a medical issue that hasn’t been picked up, I would probably see vet first then if nothing underlying ask them to recommend a behaviourist. Is the dog still quite young? Sounds a difficult situation to be in but hopefully the vet and behaviourist can give you some options.
None of us know your dog or his issues but I can’t see how keeping a dog in a cage is beneficial to it at all , perhaps rather than having him pts you could try a no kill rescue who will rehome him to someone who has the time to rehabilitate him .
He’s has no health problems other than allergies. He will be 2 in November. The aggression has just worsened overtime. It’s obviously fear related, I can see the fear in his eyes and i watch it turn into aggression. He’s a large breed. It’s not easy to manage at all but my main concern is his lack of quality of life.
That's hard OP.
If you feel you have exhausted every option then yes, I would agree that is the correct decision.
I would get a vet check first though.
I've had to do it once with a working collie. She was a danger to herself, the other dogs, the sheep and any human she came into contact with.
Like some dangerous people, some dogs will have underlying issues that simply cannot be fixed.
@Floralnomad I have put the time in and a hell of a lot of effort. My trainer would tell you that and our friends who say they don’t know anyone more committed to a dog, they’ve seen us try everything and put so much effort into his training where a lot would have re-homed. I’m not going to pass the problem onto someone else, he’ll end up being passed around and eventually in a shelter. Because I’m certain that no one could manage him better than us. He would hate that.
What breed is he?
I admire your strength though. Some dogs cannot be fixed and it is better to make the hard decision yourself than pass it on to someone else.
@icedaisy we haven’t tried medication, so not exhausted everything. But he is an active breed and I don’t think it would be fair for him to live his life sedated either.
I will have him checked at the vets for health issues but I don’t know what health issue could cause specific aggression triggers.
Personally I would have him put to sleep.
I know it’s hard but tbh passing him on to a rescue is never going to end well. Either he’ll end up being put to sleep by them anyway or he’ll be left in a kennel so the rescue can uphold its image of being a “no kill” rescue.
Personally I think there are worse things that can happen to a dog than for it to be put to sleep, and given your dog is so aggressive it can never realistically be passed on that is what I would do.
@JayAlfredPrufrock he is mixed breed. I’d rather not say which breeds but they are large breeds.
Thankyou for that, I don’t feel strong, just guilty at the thought of both options. Having him put to sleep or keeping him with little quality of life.
I feel that you need to consult a behaviourist, have you got insurance as they may cover the cost.
You say he doesn't like street noise etc in which case you could talk to a rescue/foster place to see if he went to a quite place in the country if he improves.
There are lots of options open to you.
OP think about the alternative... He could go peacefully now and as hard as it is to contemplate that he would be away from all the fear he clearly reacts to.
Or he could live out the next ten, twelve, thirteen years in a cage because he’s so aggressive that no-one can get near him. My last two dogs died at fourteen and fifteen respectively, so it’s possible you could have a lot more years of this. Is that fair on him?
Putting him to sleep means he will know nothing, and he won’t be suffering.
It’s not the same as e.g. medical suffering, but being that constricted is still suffering.
There's a lady on fb called BSAS canine rehabilitation centre. She may be able to help him. She takes the dogs in and they stay there with her.
Maybe a last chance option. I think the lady who runs it is called Joy.
@dobbyssoc He would still hear noises in a quiet place. When someone knocks on the door, unexpectedly and he runs around barking going ballistic. So the only alternative is to keep him crated or out of it on a lead and supervised. He would still have to come into contact with other people who he wouldn’t like if they spoke to his owner. He would still need exercise so would be taken out and probably have the same issues we do with reacting to other dogs and people who talk to the owner.
@roo2018 sorry I completely disagree!
You seem intent on getting him PTS and not considering any other options!
Contact a local rescue and discuss his options consult a behaviourist why are you unwilling to do this?
Lots and lots of dogs react to someone knocking at the door it is not unusual and can be managed but it needs a quiet and experienced hand. Some foster homes and rehabilitation centres are set up specifically to managed this
@roo2018 you can also hire fields specifically to avoid seeing other dogs/people this includes driving into the field and seeing no one.
@Chesneyhawkes1 my trainer takes dogs for boarding. It’s not recommended for ours because the problems would continue when he came home. There are different training techniques recommended based on the behaviour presented. He is reactive because he’s scared of everything, not because he’s just naughty and thinks it’s ok to be that way. In which case, boarded training would probably work. Thankyou for the suggestion though.
I would try a properly accredited behaviourist but if they think he can’t be helped then you should probably PTS
Sounds like no life for him and if you have dc as well he could badly injure or kill one sadly.
It’s not the worst thing that can happen to a dog
@dobbyssoc we already looked into that and found a few. But it wouldn’t be possible daily and he needs daily exercise. It also wouldn’t solve the problem of him being scared in the house and so not allowed out of his crate for long periods because he can’t be trusted when someone comes near or he hears a loud noise.
@roo2018 exactly why you need to consult a rescue (local ones are normally better than massive ones) and a behaviourist.
It took us 2 years from start to finish to help our girl with walks and strangers. It was hard work yes, in our case we hired a field 3 times a week for 2 hours then walked very very early morning or very late evening the other 4. We went with a vet recommended behaviourist who worked through the bigger issues at hand and now we can walk past a dog in the park with no issues but it is dedication and it seems like you may not have the time or resources to be able to commit to this.
Ok I’m seeing a lot of recommendations for behavourists so I’ll respond. I’ve done a hell of a lot of research since having him and I don’t believe behaviourists to be the best option for dealing with aggression in dogs. Our first trainer used the same methods as behaviourists do and that was when our dog started re-directing and biting us when out on walks. The trainer we have now deals with dogs that behaviourists are unable to help. He’s rehabilitated hundreds of them but has always been honest in saying that some cases, if genetically unstable in temperament cannot be helped. And I think that’s what I’m dealing with. It’s hard to put across how much effort, training and research you’ve done with a dog on a forum full of people who don’t know you. But I wouldn’t even be considering this if I hadn’t already tried everything.
She also goes mad if people walk past the house or ring the door bell. We have managed this by initially keeping a lead on her at all times so if someone walked past etc we would grab the lead and take her out to the garden/back of the house. As soon as she calmed down we would let her back in and give her lots of love and praise.
The doorbell we have never cracked to be honest but have a note up now asking anyone to call or text us rather than ringing it.
There's a Facebook group called dog training and support who have qualified behaviourists only giving advice it might be worth putting a message on there to see if they can suggest anything you haven't tried.
The misery this decision is causing is coming across loud and clear that you want to do the best you can for him. Just remember if it comes to it, he doesn't know what being put to sleep means. Dogs live in the now, and a peaceful but early end with his loving owner by his side is more than a lot of dogs get to hope for.
It certainly doesn't sound like you WANT to do it and you shouldn't feel guilty if your dog can't overcome his difficulties