Considering Euthenasia - My Heart is Breaking - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 55 Old 05-27-2014, 01:47 PM
Green Broke
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At this point I would muzzle her and keep her leashed when she is away from home. Fear biters are incredibly hard to rehabilitate because they are acting from a position of deep-seated instinct in order to defend themselves. The wire basket muzzles work well because she can still drink and pant to cool herself/open her mouth if she needs to vomit for any reason. You'd need to train her to accept wearing it, but it would at least keep her from biting the wrong person.

I would also look into the possibility of a short-term course of Prozac or another anti-anxiety medication like Clomicalm, to be combined with training once the medication had a chance to take effect. Sometimes a fearful or anxious dog is so worked up that trying to train them out of something is just impossible - they are so terrified that everything else gets blocked out.

It was described to me by a vet friend that it can help desensitization training be more effective in the same way that someone going through a trauma can benefit from medication - when you are terrified and stressed, it's like having a broken leg. Medication is like putting a cast on a broken leg to help it heal. It doesn't need to be on there forever, but it's supposed to support the transition of healing. In that sense, it allows the dog to CALM DOWN enough that they can receive and process new information, like "Not all big people are going to hurt me".
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post #12 of 55 Old 05-27-2014, 01:50 PM
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I guess I'm confused as to why you would go straight to euthanasia with a dog who is wonderful minus occasional fear biting. All of the situations you described seem like completely reasonable instances to bite someone considering her fearful nature and past -- Personally, I would have yelled at the person who backed her to the end of her leash at the camping trip, not apologized... But you are right in that having a dog who bites for any reason is a liability. Here are the things I would consider if I was in your shoes.

1) Talk to and work with a professional dog trainer who has experience with GSD's and fear biting issues. GSD's are different from a lot of other dogs and they do not forget bad experiences. Luckily, they are smart and willing enough that you can usually train them despite this, but you have to do it in a very fair way and make sure that they understand what and why you want what you do.

2) Keep her on a leash near you or train her to heel you off leash at all times. If you are riding in the arena so she can't follow you around, have her lie in a specific place during that time where no one will have to interact with her, perhaps your horse's empty stall or another out of the way place. The Monks of New Skete train all of their GSD's to heel them constantly, you might look into their books/DVD's to see if you find them helpful.

3) Find the dog a new home with someone who understands her issues, is willing to deal with them in the way she needs and is home more often than you are.

Nothing about the situation you described sounds like a hopeless case that would call for euthanasia. Hopefully some of my or others ideas will help you deal with this problem.
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post #13 of 55 Old 05-27-2014, 02:06 PM
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Since you are desperate I will chime in. Bless you for taking this dog home. But, I agree with those above. She doesn't need to be put down. YOU have created the environment where SHE feels threatened.
My dog, "Rose" is friendly to all, but my dog, "Pyg" growls at everyone that hasn't become her friend. Can't help but believe that something happened to her in her litter before I found 8 weeks old. She growls, barks and usually backpedals. She will also sit and down on command and has never bitten anyone in her 7 years. NOT your situation, but somewhat similar.
Dogs have incredible memories and they can be scarred. You MUST keep her from being forced to react.
I agree with the muzzle. I also think with a muzzle, when someone that threatens her visits, you should reward her for NOT biting, even though the muzzle prevents this, instead of her own behavior. You will give her great confidence in this way.
Your dog canNOT be allowed to run the yard as if she didn't have fear problems. YOU are responsible for BOTH of those biting incidents. You knew that she had problems but let her be loose in the yard, where family and friends come by unannounced.
Get the muzzle, change how you keep her, but keep the dog. =D

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Hope that you fall in love with "Trot", like I did!
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post #14 of 55 Old 05-27-2014, 02:08 PM
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A Thundershirt might be viable option for anxiety. It's usually used for storms, but it's worked wonders on a couple separation anxiety dogs I know. Heck, my dog doesn't even have to wear his any more unless the storm is really bad and he used to be almost dangerous during a storm.
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post #15 of 55 Old 05-27-2014, 03:16 PM
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The way I see it there are ao many "sane" dogs needing saving. She is unpredictable even though you've done all you can to help her. Have her a chance but there are many other dogs you can save that will turn around. A biter and an unpredictable one at that is just not (in my mind) worth the risk of saving.

just a small town girl with a big town dream :]
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post #16 of 55 Old 05-27-2014, 03:49 PM
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I agree about the basket muzzle and leash. I, also, have a fear biter who is good 95% of the time. He's a SWEET boy, loves people, loves to explore, loves swimming, loves playing. He's a GSD mix and about 65 lbs, so on the small side but big enough to make people nervous at times. He was extremely sick when I found him on the side of the road in a box, got parvo- and was in the ICU for a few weeks during the most critical socialization period of his life. He is also completely blind now because of progressive retinal atrophy. Still, he loves life and loves people...but there are certain people he just doesn't like. I have no earthly clue why. He'll growl a warning at them, and if they don't back off, he snaps at them. He has never severely bitten anyone...I'd put him down if he did that- but he has left red marks and bruises on two different men who didn't take his warning seriously or realize he couldn't see them. I always correct him and when I'm with him he's an angel, but out of the blue, if he can't hear me he gets scared and will do what he thinks he has to in order to protect himself.

Like you I can't stand the idea of not letting him ever go anywhere because he LOVES the park, going hiking, etc. I also don't think he's dangerous enough that he needs to be put down. I just make sure that when we're out, I don't trust him any farther than I can throw him (haha). He wears a basket muzzle (which he hates, but he's gotten used to it), a choke collar (though he never does need it. He sticks with me very well since I'm his eyes), and a vest that I made him that says "I am blind. Please make sure that I know where you are!" and he does just fine. I never, ever let him off leash when I go out with him, and I try not to leave him alone either. It has worked well for us.
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post #17 of 55 Old 05-27-2014, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by BlueSpark View Post
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.
You have to weigh the pro's against the cons - Snoopy hates it when I'm not with him - unless someone else in the family is around - but he sees his sole purpose in life to be protecting me and his home. he howls like a banshee when I leave him even though he has two other small dogs in the house with him but I think if I asked him if he'd rather be dead or put up with that I think he'd rather live - sorry to humanize an animal but its the only way I can think it through - and lets face it if we didn't humanize them then we wouldn't worry at all about leaving them on their own and dogs really don't have the same concept of the passing of time that we do
Slightly different but not that much - Mungo lives outside all the time, he was a rescue dog that had spent all 6 months of his life in a tiny cage in a dark room and can't stand being shut in. He was totally happy until Millie died but now misses her and pined terribly for her when she first went but is so happy when we're out there with him and hopefully we'll find him a new friend this year - but I like to think that the pleasure he gets from spending time with us makes up for the times when he's lonely
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post #18 of 55 Old 05-27-2014, 05:28 PM
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I have fear biting GSD, almost exactly the same as yours- bites in the same sort of situations, etc. He has only ever bitten two people in the 7 years I've had him because I choose not to put him in those situations. Once was when a stranger came in the house, the other when a stranger cornered him and tried to pet him while I was distracted talking to someone else. He bites the same as yours- bruising but no long term damage.

He wears a wire muzzle in public areas where I cannot pay 100% attention to him and has for years. At home or when he's on leash, I don't bother. I only take him into situations where I can somewhat control who and how people are going to be around him. That means he stays home when I go to rides or visiting friends, etc. He comes with when I go to the barn and expect it to be quiet, but stays home if it'll be a busy weekend with everyone and their brother about.

I could have euthanized him, and I did consider it. The tendency for this behavior will not likely ever go away, no matter what you do. You can manage it, but not erase or fix it. What it came down to for me is that my dog loves his family and is a happy guy. So long as I give him a walk and a little one-on-one attention when I get home, staying home alone for a few hours is not the end of the world. He is still better treated and has a better life than 90% of the dogs out there, even though he stays home a lot. That was a decision I could live with, and now you'd never know his life was ever any different. The fact that he ever gets to go with is more than most family dogs get, so I challenge anyone to tell me I'm cruel.

He's happy, I'm happy, and we've had 7 happy years together this way. Sometimes I still wish I could take him to more places, and I would never adopt another fear-biter because of that, but I think his life as a spoiled couchdog is pretty worth living.

I disagree with barrelracingarabians on one thing though- these dogs are not unpredictable at all. You can tell down to a T the sorts of situations that are likely going to make them react and bite. It's just that some of these situations happen so infrequently or unexpectedly they can be hard to prevent. Others a obvious and easy to avoid (for example, an endurance ride is NOT the place for my guy, it's a recipe for badness with lots of chaos, strangers, and me being busy with other things).

Last edited by Sharpie; 05-27-2014 at 05:34 PM.
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post #19 of 55 Old 05-27-2014, 05:35 PM Thread Starter
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He'll growl a warning at them, and if they don't back off, he snaps at them. He has never severely bitten anyone...I'd put him down if he did that- but he has left red marks and bruises on two different men
pretty much my girls story. If she severely bit someone she would be put down asap. She doesn't growl though, just body language.

A Thundershirt might be viable option for anxiety
she's not super anxious. sensitive, yes, and she will get fearful in the right circumstances, but she's not a high axiety dog. It will go from totally relaxed to "OMG, HE'S GONNA EAT ME!!!!". At home she's a couch potato.

Dogs have incredible memories and they can be scarred. You MUST keep her from being forced to react.
I agree, to an extent. She is scarred. I cant cover every conceivable base, all the time. I cant always stop some idiot from approaching her, or somebody from walking through the door. I can try to foresee them happening, muzzle her and keep her locked out side. The one that happened the other day was surprising. I have been carefully supervising her interactions with the bo's husband for a year and a half, since the first incident happened. she has not had an issue with him since, and he has stepped over her in confined spaces before. It didn't dawn on me that she would have an issue now. So did I do it? Yes, I could have had her muzzled, or moved her to another location, but it didn't dawn on me, I thought I had done my homework.

its becoming apparent that she is likely not going to 'get better', and that confinement, muzzles and constant supervision are her only hope of keeping her from biting anyone.

1) Talk to and work with a professional dog trainer who has experience with GSD's and fear biting issues
I have a shelf full of books and dvds, I've talked to several trainers and I belong to forums as well. I have not found a trainer in my province that can help me, or even really has anything positive to contribute that I haven't already tried. Its frustrating.

2) Keep her on a leash near you or train her to heel you off leash at all times.
I can do this.

3) Find the dog a new home with someone who understands her issues, is willing to deal with them in the way she needs and is home more often than you are.
can you honestly see this happening? I've thought about this before. She would fit in perfectly if I lived in the country and had a spouse willing to pay some of the bills. As it is I live in the city, board and work a lot. Who would be willing to take on a large, fear aggressive dog? There are so many being thrown away every day, put down, turned into shelters, abandoned on the highway. I really don't think anyone would take her.
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post #20 of 55 Old 05-27-2014, 05:57 PM
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if you have a decent sized back yard and she does not try to get out of it, leave her home.
better than killing her.
Put a do not enter sign up , beware of dog on your home door.
If you know big people scare her, lock her out when they are over.
In this town 2 bites, and your dog is euthed by animal control.
if you keep taking her out in public put a muzzle on her. there are different types of muzzles, find one she can open her mouth in so she can pant and drink water.
I dont totally trust my dogs . I have one that can be a tad nasty tempered and I lock him up when there are people over here.
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