a very difficult decision - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 27 Old 06-08-2011, 11:43 AM Thread Starter
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a very difficult decision

Hi guys. I've come to a fork in the road in terms of one of my dogs. This is going to end up being long....A little bit of history on Chubaka:

Chui is a Sarplaninac, which is a breed from (now former) Yugoslavia. It is quite a fascinating breed and still very close to its origins as a livestock guarding breed. They are working dogs, most certainly. He is big: weighs around 90lbs.

Chui came to me from a surburban family at age 2. He bit a house guest in his quest to "protect" his house and his people. The couple decided to either give him to a farm, or to put him down. So we brought him home.

He is an incredible dog. He is obedient, well behaved, and so gentle with us, his family. He is very quiet, stoical and does not want a lot of attention but just likes to be around with us. He gets along very well with our yellow labrador.

However. He is extremely aggressive. His first response to something he perceives as danger (which is anything/anyone unknown) is to attack. For this reason he lives in a kennel when he is not in our house. He is on a rope or leash when outside, or when set free to run he wears a stainless steel muzzle (he can pant and drink through it).

Even with our precautions, there have been incidents. For example, someone walked into our house unannounced and he bit them (not seriously). And now, yesterday, he attacked a sheep that had got loose from her pen (he was tied). He gave her a superficial wound in her neck. It could have been much worse.

Chui is 7 now. The breed lives to be upwards of 12. I adore him. He is healthy, well integrated into our family, and a pleasure to be around. But is it time for me to think about putting him down? The possibility that some day a rope could break, a kennel door fail, a muzzle come off...it really troubles me because I -know- what he is capable of. Having this dog around is like having a loaded weapon.

Accidents happen, and I would never forgive myself if something were to happen to a child, or if one of our livestock were killed.

What would you do in this situation? I want what's best for everyone involved.
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post #2 of 27 Old 06-08-2011, 12:32 PM
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You have quite a dilemna on your hands. I have been bitten by a dog before and it is quite terrifying. I love dogs and have 2 of my own and still am leery around dogs I don't know.

Have you talked with a dog trainer or animal behaviorist? Is this normal behavior for this breed of dog?

I would also be concerned that if this dog attacks someone, that they could also press legal charges against you as the owner. Something that also happens at least here in Massachusetts is that if there is an aggressive dog living on your property, that your homeowners insurance could be cancelled due to this.

It sounds like this dog is too dangerous to keep. Dogs like this can attack so quickly and it sounds like he does.

Good luck in your quest for answers

Bee
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post #3 of 27 Old 06-08-2011, 12:54 PM
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Hard to say... I would put down any animal of mine that would potentially attack a child. It also seems that his aggression is not just property protection. I am sure that you are quite attached at this point. No one on this forum can Accuratly weigh in on your emotional attachment... From an outsider perspective, I would have him euthanized.
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post #4 of 27 Old 06-08-2011, 01:16 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bee222 View Post
You have quite a dilemna on your hands. I have been bitten by a dog before and it is quite terrifying. I love dogs and have 2 of my own and still am leery around dogs I don't know.

Have you talked with a dog trainer or animal behaviorist? Is this normal behavior for this breed of dog?

I would also be concerned that if this dog attacks someone, that they could also press legal charges against you as the owner. Something that also happens at least here in Massachusetts is that if there is an aggressive dog living on your property, that your homeowners insurance could be cancelled due to this.

It sounds like this dog is too dangerous to keep. Dogs like this can attack so quickly and it sounds like he does.

Good luck in your quest for answers

Bee

We have not had a trainer see him. To be honest, no matter what training we invested in I would never trust him with people enough to not take extreme precautions.

The liability is another concern of course that I've thought of.

The breed is known for it's protectiveness. They were bred to protect livestock against predators. But from what info I can gather (there are very few breeders in north america) Chui's behaviour is more aggressive than usual for the breed.


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Originally Posted by christabelle View Post
Hard to say... I would put down any animal of mine that would potentially attack a child. It also seems that his aggression is not just property protection. I am sure that you are quite attached at this point. No one on this forum can Accuratly weigh in on your emotional attachment... From an outsider perspective, I would have him euthanized.
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You are right, we are all emotionally attached to him. He is such a darling. He is a Jekyll and Hyde, two completely different sides to his personality.

His aggression is also fear related, I believe. In the instance of the sheep attack, the ewe walked towards him, and he lashed out.

I believe deep down I know that euthanizing him is the correct thing to do. I just suppose I need to hear it from some other people to assure me I'm not making a foolish decision. Four years ago I could never make that decision. But now that there have been more incidents, I can foresee the possibility of disaster in the future.

Last edited by Magaidh; 06-08-2011 at 01:18 PM.
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post #5 of 27 Old 06-08-2011, 01:37 PM
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Whatever decision you make, you have given him many years of love and life that he would never have gotten without you.
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post #6 of 27 Old 06-08-2011, 01:40 PM
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Whatever decision you make, you have given him many years of love and life that he would never have gotten without you. Sometimes the right decisions are the ones that are hardest to make. You also need to think of all the stress and tension that will be caused by not letting him go now, that may still lead to this same decision when something else happens.
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post #7 of 27 Old 06-08-2011, 01:47 PM
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Let's set aside the biting of people who come into your house with out proper notice (as I think that is justified). (No, I do not allow my dogs to bite people, I am just saying it is a reasonable reaction.)

Fear biting is very hard to fix with out lots of time spent training, etc. It sounds like investing that time is not an option (and no, that is not a dig, it is a fact for very many people).
If he is so stressed that he bites the livestock he should in theory be protecting it seems like putting him down might actually be a gift.
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post #8 of 27 Old 06-08-2011, 01:57 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Alwaysbehind View Post
Let's set aside the biting of people who come into your house with out proper notice (as I think that is justified). (No, I do not allow my dogs to bite people, I am just saying it is a reasonable reaction.)

Fear biting is very hard to fix with out lots of time spent training, etc. It sounds like investing that time is not an option (and no, that is not a dig, it is a fact for very many people).
If he is so stressed that he bites the livestock he should in theory be protecting it seems like putting him down might actually be a gift.
I agree that the unannounced "intruder" was justifiable. There have been two other minor biting incidents with him on our property, plus his attack on the sheep.

We do not use him to guard our livestock. As a rule we keep him well away from the sheep, goats and horses. It was a fluke that the ewe walked over to where he was tied up the other day.

ETA: It can be quite exhausting monitoring him constantly. "Where's Chui?" "Is anyone coming to the farm today?" "Does he have his muzzle on?" "Why are the dogs barking? Is Chui in the house or in the kennel?" It's emotionally draining too, always feeling worried and on-edge about keeping him under wraps.

I can't imagine how much time it would take to work through fear biting. Also, since it is combined with a natural instinct to guard and protect, I don't know if it could ever be worked out. Even if we did somehow get him past his immediate biting reaction in a controlled environment, I'd never feel secure to trust that training. What little thing could someday trigger the same response? Especially since it's a well-ingrained behaviour now, in a 7 year old dog.

Being at the point of even considering destroying him is a big deal for me, as I never would have been able to even think about it a few years ago. Even now it makes me truly upset, as I love my big dog. But not all decisions can or should be based on emotions.

Last edited by Magaidh; 06-08-2011 at 02:00 PM.
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post #9 of 27 Old 06-08-2011, 02:05 PM
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Putting him down for the safety of everyone involved does not mean you do not love him.
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post #10 of 27 Old 06-08-2011, 02:13 PM
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Only one other possible alternative. A rescue for such animals? Otherwise I agree with the rest on putting him down. That's too bad.
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