Considering Euthenasia - My Heart is Breaking - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 55 Old 05-27-2014, 11:23 AM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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Considering Euthenasia - My Heart is Breaking

I don't know where else to put this, and I have no one to talk to. I would love outside opinions, but please be nice.

I am very dog experienced, all sizes, genders, temperaments. Been working with rescues my whole life and dealt with tons of issues. I've read and watched every bit of dog training info I could over the years, as well as learning from other trainers.

Almost two years ago I took on a 6 month old shepherd mix. She had been owned for four of those months by a mentally unstable man who was large and abusive. When she would run in fear she would be chased down, pulled out of hiding and punished. She learned that you couldn't run, you had to defend yourself. Her owner was taking her to the vets to get her put down when I offered to take her.

she was good with kids, good with cats, liked horses, great with other dogs. I live in a situation with other people and she was great with them. Super fast learner, willing to please, naturally submissive, loves car rides. She has a bit of the shepherd guarding tendencies, but otherwise nothing, just a fear of tall people with an abrupt nature. I was waiting for her to misbehave, but Nothing happened. About 4 months into owning her we were out at the barn, at night. she was laying outside the door when a large man she's never met came walking up unannounced to the barn in the dark, wearing all black winter clothing, very similar to her old owner. It was the bo's husband, and she ran over, bit his leg(wearing snow pants) and took off back into the barn. she was acting extremely fearful and shaking. I dealt with the issue, and she spent time around him no problem. No damage to any one, not even the snow pants.

I started working much harder on socializing her around different people, traveling to different places. She gets a ton of exercise and exposure. She sits, stays, comes, shakes a paw, high 5's, speaks, sings, lays down, dances and plays dead. She knows the command "off" and will instantly move away from an object. She heels perfectly and her recall is flawless, she will leave any room or go outside a fence at the command "out". Loyal, loving, playful, my parents favorite 'gran dog'. I've had her at parties with scors of children, several other dogs, lots of men, no issues.

Then I was camping with my dogs, and I had them tied away from the main camp just in case, while I went in to change. A relative of a relative that was there walked across the camp waving a large sunshade, backed her to the end of her lead into a corner so she was choking herself to get away and before anyone could stop him, she nipped him and ran. Left a bruise on his leg. I apologised sincerely and watched her like a hawk.

a month or so later she had a brief incident where a big guy walked through the door of my house unannounced and she nipped at his hand. She was disciplined and had no more issues with him or anyone else, for 8 months. I was aware of her issues and have been careful around new people.

which brings me to this week. We were at the end of the barn painting, it was dark. She was laying in a narrow aisle between the wall and a pile of boards, when the barn owners husband came up from behind her and tried to step over her. She bit his leg and ran. didn't puncture the skin, but bruised him.

I have reached the line in my mind where I need to make a decision. I cant predict when some guy is going to upset her. the bo's husband has stepped over her before with no issues. I don't know that she is going to get better, and I don't know if / when it will happen again. I cant have her biting people, its totally unacceptable. I cant rehome her, and I wont keep a dog locked up at home for the rest of her life, while my other dog goes every where with me. That's not fair.

I've never been in this situation before. Its like she suddenly flashes back to when she was being beaten up, then after she's all shame and apology for what she did. I don't know when its going to happen and I cant train something that happens randomly out.

how can I look into the eyes of a dog who loves and is loyal to me and kill her???

do I have any other choice?
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post #2 of 55 Old 05-27-2014, 11:52 AM
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I would figure out an alternative to euthanasia. If she can be happy staying home in a fenced yard then I'd certainly consider it. You could keep her on a leash near you when you are out and about or carry a chain with you and tie her in an out of the way place.

As far as her biting someone coming into your home unannounced, well that's a good dog's job and if folks are stupid enough to do it then they should expect to get bit. You can put a Beware of Dog sign on your door and that should take care of any liability issues. Same thing when your camping. Tie her close to your trailer, tent or whatever you stay in and hang a sign.
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post #3 of 55 Old 05-27-2014, 11:56 AM
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I have a Chinese Crested Powder Puff (the hairy brother of the Chinese Crested hairless) that we've had from a puppy and he's now not a young dog. He began biting people he didn't know for no reason when he was a year old and nothing we did could change him - away from the property he's fine but on his own patch he will attack anyone he doesn't recognize as friends or family. Fortunately he's not very big but his bite still comes sharp
He's a wonderful loyal dog to us and I love him dearly so I have to keep him securely fastened away when anyone calls and he's not allowed loose outside anywhere he could get to people
I couldn't bear to have him put to sleep but if he was a big dog that could do a lot more harm I might have to think differently.
Mungo my remaining big dog looks fierce but is a real softie, Millie who I lost to cancer was inclined to threaten strangers if we weren't about so they were always kept in a secure enclosure.
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post #4 of 55 Old 05-27-2014, 12:06 PM
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I have known people that bought dogs like that for guard dogs. Not all dogs need to be wagging tails and ambassadors. As long as she is trustworthy around her immediate pack she would be happy and useful as a guard dog in a protected environment. It's when a dog starts randomly attacking its pack that I worry.
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post #5 of 55 Old 05-27-2014, 12:08 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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I couldn't bear to have him put to sleep but if he was a big dog that could do a lot more harm I might have to think differently
she's 95lb, black and scary looking.

I don't think keeping a big, young, energetic dog in a backyard for the rest of her life is a viable option. I'm out at the horses 3-5 days a week in the summer, which she loves, and its to the point now where she would have to stay at home and watch me leave for the horses every day with her best buddy, abandoning her at home, then I would have to come home at 9pm and walk her on a leash for an hour.

with guests she'd have to be locked outside. like solitary confinement.

99% of the time she's fine, but that 1% is going to get her shot, and me sued.
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post #6 of 55 Old 05-27-2014, 12:19 PM
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I would try and find her a home. She isn't going after people, only nipping when she is directly threatened. So that can be fixed, or avoided with a more secure home and stationary lifestyle.

Two of my dogs would bite IF threatened here at home. And that's how I want them. They are absolute DOLLS, it's just in their nature to be extremely protective and loyal to me, my family, and my livestock. They are stay at home only dogs, VERY sensitive, and not social dogs I could take to town.
I can easily call them off someone, but if someone walked in my door unannounced, or even stepped foot in the yard, they are dead meat. But I could only have dogs like these way out in the boonies.

Give her a chance to find a good farm home? Or someone who NEEDS a loyal protector.
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post #7 of 55 Old 05-27-2014, 12:52 PM
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What about putting a muzzle on her when you are out with people? She sounds like such a lovely dog minus that one fear which sadly is a huge liability. A muzzle would allow her to play and be around people but prevent her from biting.
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post #8 of 55 Old 05-27-2014, 12:56 PM
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I'm going to disagree with a few of the other people suggesting this dog be used as a protection or guard dog. She's a fear biter, not a protection dog. It is unsuitable and even dangerous to put her in a position where she will be "forced" to defend property or a person. That is for confident, well trained and controlled dogs. Not for a dog that has been abused and is terrified enough to bite sometimes.

Have you tried taking her to a different trainer? I know you said you're very experienced, but sometimes another set of hands can help. A good friend of mine has a dog that is/was a fearful biter and it took her a long time to get him confident enough that he stopped. She is still careful with him around children (they freak him out) and such. I wouldn't put her down, but this is something I would be willing to manage. You don't have to leave her home all the time, but leave her home when you're going into less structured environments could be very helpful for her. Set her up to win in every interaction she has with people.
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post #9 of 55 Old 05-27-2014, 01:10 PM
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I have just a couple of thoughts on this:

1. She's bitten/nipped far too many people right now - she cannot obviously be trusted in an 'open' situation (eg one where she is not on a leash and at your side). It is unfortunate that she will be penalized for it by losing free runtime but it's also not fair or safe for potential bitees.

2. My suggestion would be for her to wear a muzzle when you have her out and about at the barn. She may be OK to go off leash there as you know what to expect for the most part with regard to people coming and going while she is more familiar with the lay of the land (but she should be muzzled nonetheless). In instances where you are taking her to other sites, then I think it has to be pretty much be constant supervision and always on leash - a great nuisance I know but you can then run interference that helps her as much as other people.

I have, btw, one that I watch closely as I recognize she has the potential to cause trouble that way. She is only outside loose if we're out or she's put in the dog run and I watch her like a hawk if other people are with us. I would much prefer to let her have the run of the farm but I know it won't be in the best interests of either us or her.

I hope you can find something workable.
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post #10 of 55 Old 05-27-2014, 01:30 PM
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Leash and muzzle, IMO.
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* I'm often reading and posting from mobile and Siri loves to make a mockery of the English language.
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