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Euthanize aggressive dog?

Species: Dog
Breed: Pit Mix
Age: 2-5 years
I adopted my dog Nubby a year ago from a local shelter. A few months after I adopted him, he started showing signs of aggression. While on the couch he nipped my 2 year old. All of a sudden out of the blue he got up and went straght for him and nipped my 2 year olds face. While on walks he has nipped at a biker, someone who tried to pet him, and a friend that put her hand out for him to smell it. He has lunged, growled, barked at other people while out for walks. He gets walked five times a day, a total of at least 2 hours each day.

I have taken him to a trainer and a behaviorist. I started to use behavior modification which the behavorist recommended. While out for walks he uses a head halter, I move him away from other people/dogs and make him sit. He was doing well with all of this.

But a little over a week ago he was on the couch with another member of the household. He was licking her, and wanted her to pet him. She did and then moved away from him. He stared at her and when she went to look at him he made the most vicious noise I have ever heard and went at her face. She had to go to the hospital, but he didn't do to much phsycial damage.

I can not have him in our household. This is where I am torn. I can take him back to the shelter and they can decide whether to euthanize him, or re-adopt him. Or I can take him to my vet and euthanize him. I do not have any experience with aggressive dogs. As a vet, what would the best avenue be for this dog?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I am so very sorry to hear about your situation. Unfortunately I have seen this many times before.

It sounds like you are doing all of the right things that you should do with an aggressive dog. Please don't feel that you have failed in raising this dog. I will often hear people say, "There are no bad dogs just bad owners" and that is so wrong. I have met several dogs who have serious aggression issues and have been that way from birth. Personally, I believe that dogs like this have been born with some type of mental illness.

This may be hard to hear, but in a case like yours I would recommend euthanasia for the dog. He has proven that he will bite without provocation.

I have seen one dog like this who has been retrained. However, this dog was initially in a bad home surrounded by aggressive people and drugs. She was moved to a home with a very loving owner and was successfully rehabilitated. But, in your situation, Nubby is already in a good home. It is unlikely that he is going to be able to be retrained.

My concern is that someone who means well will adopt him and try to rehabilitate him and in the process someone gets seriously hurt.

Again, when I see a dog who has bitten a child and also attacked people without being provoked I consider this a dangerous dog. I have no hesitation in euthanizing a dog like this.

I understand what you are going through as I went through a similar situation with my dog when I was in high school. He would attack me with no warning. We tried medications, trainers and a veterinary behavioral specialist and he still continued to attack and we eventually had him put to sleep.

I'm so sorry for this bad news. I hope it helps with your decision making.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Thank you very much. I have done a lot if research and it made me feel like I was a bad owner. My dog has an appointment with the veterinarian to discuss this all further. Thank you again.


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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.