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Starting to really resent my dog

393 replies

StopBloodyBarking · 31/12/2022 11:21

4 years ago (before anyone had heard of Covid so not a lockdown puppy) I bought a puppy. It was a breed I’d always wanted and she was perfect. I did everything by the book, training classes, socialisation classes etc - she excelled in all her classes and she really was perfect.

Then she hit 6 months old and changed. She became dog reactive - no idea why as I’d socialised her so much (in hindsight, too much). I worked on that but she became dog aggressive - then people aggressive. She hates men and kids. This means I can’t have my grandchildren over as it’s just not safe. Infact we can’t have anyone over, nobody visits anymore. All walks with her are stressful so we stick to the same route everytime and I try and walk her at times when the kids are at school so we’re less likely to see any. We can’t go anywhere as we’re so restricted with where she can go. I got a dog so I could take it to the beach, to the woods, to the park etc etc … I can’t take her anywhere. I’ve just braved a quiet beach with her and she screamed the place down before lunging and barking at anyone we came across, it was so embarrassing and after 10 minutes I gave up and came home.

I feel like a prisoner with her, every day is stressful and exhausting. I’m at the point now where i no longer want to walk her. But she’s so full of energy she needs it. I can’t rehome her as she’s aggressive. I’m stuck. I’ve had two behaviourists and 4 trainers. No difference. I’ve been told it’s all about “managing” her behaviour.

Sounds awful but I’ve started to fantasise about the time she’s no longer here :-( and I feel so guilty saying that as she adores me and I love her but I can’t do this for another 10 or so years. I’m really resenting how much time I’m missing out on with my grandkids because of her. All the places we can’t go, the days she’s ruined …. Just needed a rant really. So fed up.

The constant barking is driving me insane. She’s constantly “on guard”. I’m so tired of it.

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

641 votes. Final results.

You are being unreasonable
You are NOT being unreasonable
Aquasulis · 31/12/2022 12:17

Do the right thing for the dog. She is highly stressed and unhappy with people children other dogs etc

Guard dogs need to be controlled so advertising her as a guard dog or to the police / military is a no go.

Try medication and then PTS these are you’re only options

MarvelMrs · 31/12/2022 12:17

Your pet should not rule your life. You are not unreasonable in your feelings. You should not miss out on your life, your relationships with your grandchildren and your family and your mental health.
I think the dog, as loved as she is, should be considered for being PTS. It is not cruel as she will not know anything. However the dog’s walks and trips out sound like they will be causing the dog immense stress as they do you. This alone should be a consideration when deciding to be PTS. If they cannot live a full and content life and you can’t care for them then there may be no other sensible option. That does make you caring although you will never get everyone to understand that.

MrsVeryTired · 31/12/2022 12:17

Forgot to say, ours is on Zylkene daily (vet recommended but get from shops) which definitely helps, we have another dog and he is less aggressive towards her since on this. He also gets sedative before vet and travel. You need to find a better vet, ask around, farmers might be a good place to ask as their working dogs will need a vet that's good with non pet dogs.

TortugaRumCakeQueen · 31/12/2022 12:19

I look after dogs for a living. One of my customers has just had to deal with this. Actually, their situation wasn't quite as bad as yours. The dog (a cockapoo) walked fine, was good with other dogs, was good for me when I had him, BUT
he was biting her and her DH, and their adult children quite regularly and for no reason. She showed me pictures on her phone, and they were nasty bites. She used a behaviouralist for many months, and in the end was told that the dog simply had a chemical imbalance in the brain that would never be cured. They had to PTS.

Haveagentlechristmas · 31/12/2022 12:19

Oh no you can't live like that. I'm a dog lover but I'm afraid I would be pts the dog. What if you lose control and it attacks a child. It's already attacked a vet. She could be resource guarding you but regardless, I'm afraid you've done everything you can. I'm so sorry.

LeilaRose777 · 31/12/2022 12:20

PTS - there's not much else to do at this point. I can't believe you would let an out-of-control dog destroy your life like this. Do you really value a dog more than your family and grandchildren? She's too big and potentially dangerous for any rehoming or rescue.
GS are lovely dogs, my friend has two and they're a delight - big daft buggers that love everyone. But this is a breed which was originally bred for aggressive and guarding traits, and every so often you will get one with that in abundance and nothing else.
Some dogs can't be fixed.

tabulahrasa · 31/12/2022 12:22

Reactive dogs do not make good guard dogs, nor do the police or anyone sensible take them...

The rescues I know of for similar breeds are full and not taking reactive dogs either, because they can’t rehome them.

OP - has she had a proper health check? Joints, spine? Pain is a very common reason for fear reactivity.

Catttt · 31/12/2022 12:22

LuckySantangelo35 · 31/12/2022 12:04


but life is too short for op to sacrifice her happiness and relationship with her grankids for an animal that should never be a domestic pet. It’s not fair on anyone including the dog

What makes you think this dog shouldn’t be a domestic pet? Because of the working background? Getting a German shepherd from a working background means they are healthier and don’t have the awful spinal problems that a lot of show German shepherds have.
this dog could potentially make a good pet for the right owner. Someone used to the breed with a lifestyle that will suit this specific dog.
life is too short for the op to struggle, but it’s ok to think throw a dogs life away because she can’t handle it and has yet to look for the right help?
Although there are some good dog trainers there are some awful ones too. Vets and those with proper breed experience are those whose advice should be sought now.
I worked at a kennels that housed suspected pit bulls while they were assessed , luckily the owners were compassionate enough to seek homes for this banned breed legally and through a pit bull rescue.
yet again breed specific rescue is needed

MilkshakesBringAllTheCoosToTheYard · 31/12/2022 12:23

This may sound totally basic, but have you tried to muzzle train?

Just knowing that she can't bite when out would decrease your stress enormously.

BootifulLoser · 31/12/2022 12:23

OP, you clearly have lots of love and nurturance (and resources) to give to a dog. Please don't expand all that energy on a wrong'un. It sounds like this dog will never have a happy life but you would exhaust yourself trying to give her one.
Focus all that on a good-natured dog that will thrive under your care… one that might be crying on death row in a shelter right now.
I'm so sorry you have to go through this.

janeeyreair · 31/12/2022 12:23

@MilkshakesBringAllTheCoosToTheYard yes I was thinking the same. people with dogs are more likely to give a wide berth as well.

Hayliebells · 31/12/2022 12:24

It's an excellent idea to push your vet for medication, I've seen tremendous success with prozaic in a friend's dog, who sounds exactly like yours. If your vet is reluctant, I'd keep trying different vets until you've found one that will prescribe it. Ultimately though, if a combination of medication and a behaviourist doesn't work, and she can't be rehomed, the best solution for all of you would be to PTS. You can't live like this forever, only a heartless bastard would think it appropriate for you to live a life of misery when you've exhausted all options.

mcmooberry · 31/12/2022 12:25

Going to PM you some medical advice.

Angeldelight81 · 31/12/2022 12:26

We had a different kind of dog, but with very similar behaviour patterns, she would literally bite me and the children the only person that could do anything with her was my ex-husband. Anyway, the dog went to work for the prison service and apparently was an absolute joy to behold.

Swansridinghorses · 31/12/2022 12:28

I haven’t read all the comments but you need a better trainer. Is she insured? If so I’d consider asking for a referral to behavet. Medication is definitely something that could be considered but should be done carefully as some medications can reduce bite inhibition. Is she muzzle trained? Is there anyone else she’d tolerate? I think you need a better solution for you both. Also if she isn’t spayed I’d consider doing that also as progesterone can also contribute to behaviour. I do really feel for you but there are definitely ways to help. Sounds like you haven’t had the best support.

FOJN · 31/12/2022 12:29

Please put the dog to sleep. I hear what you are saying about the impact on your life but you have choices, the dog does not. Can you imagine living everyday in fear? I think it's cruel to persevere and irresponsible to endanger others.

Paq · 31/12/2022 12:29

I am a dog lover but I would pts. My sister had similar issues with a rescue and it destroyed her life.

I'm so sorry OP. You have done your absolute best and the situation is tragic for everyone.

Kleptronic · 31/12/2022 12:30

This rescue specialises in difficult GSDs

Sidking · 31/12/2022 12:30

We had a dog who started off fine and became very aggressive after settling in with us. We tried all sorts, behaviourists, trainers, medications... He just continued to get worse, and his triggers seemed completely random, he would be fine with us/our dogs 98% of the time and then just flip.

He attacked one of our other dogs and was close to killing her (just missed her jugular according to the vet), we lived a life of rotating crates (he could jump any baby gate even raised ones)

The day I was tidying the living room and noticed him staring at me before he jumped off the sofa and ran at me and tried to go on the attack was the last straw, I was pregnant, no rescue would touch him, we had tried for over a year to see some improvement in him.

He was PTS, instantly our household (all adults and dogs at that point, no kids) were noticeably relaxed. I was devastated it had come to that but it was definitely the right decision

FrankTheCondor · 31/12/2022 12:31

This reply has been deleted

This has been deleted by MNHQ for breaking our Talk Guidelines - previously banned poster.

catwhite1 · 31/12/2022 12:32

Anyone that says to re home or consider euthanasia does not deserve the love of a dog. Have you tried contacting Graham Hall aka The DogFather from Dogs Behaving Badly. on Channel 4 He does private sessions and I’m sure would want to help. Let us know how you get on please. If you can’t afford him the. Set up a go fund me page and I will donate as I’m sure plenty of other dog lovers would. Good luck

startingitallagain · 31/12/2022 12:32

StopBloodyBarking · 31/12/2022 11:46

With the reactivity I do positive reinforcement and I’ve managed to stop her reacting to bikes so we have had some success. She also doesn’t react to men anymore unless they approach us. I don’t know what’s happened this past couple of weeks but she’s gone backwards, screaming the street down as soon as we leave the house, biting at her lead and reacting to random men again.

We’ve had 3 positive reinforcement trainers and one balanced trainer. The only one who could handle her was the balanced trainer but I can’t recreate his methods. (Prong collar, I just can’t do it).

A prong collar? On an anxious stressed dog?

Sorry OP but that will have just exacerbated the situation.

If you've ever had anxiety or stress yourself, imagine being hurt as a way to train you out of that feeling.

Southend Dog Training mentioned upthread is the subject of much debate so I'd do my research over that first. I'd go to a breed specific trainer first and foremost - the breed specific rescue should be able to advise.

PotatoScollop · 31/12/2022 12:35

Ah, a German Shepherd. My favourite breed, have grown up with them, but not for the faint hearted.

Reactivity, barking and obsessive compulsive behaviours are not new to this breed - they are very well known to be prone to these problems, 3 on my current street alone whom exhibit these behaviours, only one of those owners anywhere near half decent. And no, you can't just blame their breeding. Breeding certainly has some impact, as it is common with the breed, but good breeders of G.S produce dogs prone to these problems, but it's also how this is managed, and energy channeled that has the biggest impact. All breeds have their strengths, and vulnerabilities.

First things first is you need a new vet. No dog should be getting pinned down for it's vaccinations - it's far too stressful an experience and perpetuates the anxiousness around vet visits. It also means the dog will be in a high state of stress and anxiety for days following. Not exactly good for an already troubled dog. I'd strongly recommend you change vets, very quickly.

What activities do you do with the dog beyond walking? Sorry if I have missed this. You cannot just walk a breed like German Shepherds. They need an enormous amount of mental stimulation and enrichment to get anywhere close to keeping them happy. What food based enrichment do you offer? How often? What particular activities does she excel in?

I'd recommend scent training. Reactive dogs have many elements to their issues, one is not using their nose enough, instead relying on eyesight (hence being very starey and hyper-focused).

I'm not going to lie, the problems with reactivity are not going to be fixed by thi alone, they are far too ingrained. But it IS a step in the right direction towards a happier, more mentally stimulated dog. Without this kind of stimulation, shepherds quite literally, lose it.

emmyren4 · 31/12/2022 12:36

I'm sorry you're in this position. You sound like a very dedicated and caring owner, but your vet sounds horrendous. I would never bring an animal in to see him again.

In your shoes, I'd first seek out a new vet to see if they would agree to start prozac. If meds don't materially change the situation, I'd PTS. If meds work and do help her calm down and it looks like there's potential for a better quality of life for her (and you), I'd have your new vet do a very thorough physical exam and then refer to a behavioural vet.

CockSpadget · 31/12/2022 12:36

OP, you have put far more into trying to solve the issues than the majority of people would. This is absolutely not your fault.
The kindest option for you both would be for the dog to be PTS. The dog is young, yes, but it’s clearly not healthy. Dogs can suffer from mental health issues too. And it is suffering. It isn’t happy, it’s not enjoying life as it is in a constant state of fear/anxiety. The dog is a large, powerful breed, and has the potential to kill or cause life changing injuries. It’s a ticking time bomb.

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