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Deciding on euthanasia due to behaviour :(

Discussion in 'Dog Behaviour and Training' started by Doghelp1, Sep 30, 2018.

  1. Doghelp1

    Doghelp1 New Member Registered

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    Hi I'm in an awful position and don't know what the right decision is.
    We adopted a puppy 4 years ago. She was in a litter of puppies that were 5 weeks old when rescued. They had been rescued from an abusive alcoholic. Mum was a staffy /boxer cross in appearance. We picked our puppy out at 8 weeks old. All the puppies were extremely nervous, hand shy noise sensitive etc. I wish I'd listened to the alarm bells in my head about this but I was consumed by the cute factor. I picked out the bravest pup (who was still terrified). Took her home. At that point I had 2 very young children . (Now I have 4 children under 7) we also had a kitten who is now also 4.

    I did loads of socialising and training with pip and she was really coming out of her shell and turning in to a lovely dog. Was, and still is, absolutely amazing with the kids and was best friends with the cat. They would always sleep together, groom each other etc. Pip was absolutely fantastic with other dogs. Would be extremely submissive dive on her back at the sight of any dog, then after some time would get up and go and play with them. All was fab
    Then at about 2yrs pip was attacked by another dog. After that all was OK for a while she just became more submissive and clearly more fearful I made sure all encounters with dogs were sweet and short and moved her on so she didn't have to feel threatened. She still played with dogs I knew or calm ones. Then she started to have a go at dogs after she'd gone submissive if they sniffed a bit long etc. Walks now are unpredictable and stressful and there have been a few fights (no blood drawn).
    Meanwhile her anxiety has become much worse She's often a quivering wreck and is very, very needy. Constantly trying to seek approval and lot of appeasing behaviour Always licking everyone... Little continual panicky licks to face hand etc. Everyone hates it (it's not like your normal friendly licking. It's very obsessive.
    She's always been hyped, excited, anxious when someone comes to the door. We then shut her in crate or other room before opening door. However obviously we don't know when people are going to show up and I don't want her shut away all day. We are a busy family with comings and goings all day. So the problem here started with people knocking on the door or us returning home (if others were home .. When we're all out she's shut in the kitchen) she will become very over excited and anxious and hackles go up etc, and she would look for the cat to chase in an aggressive manner. About 7 months ago one day someone knocked on the door and she ran looking for the cat cornered him and basically was savaving him. There was no blood after but I can only think she was trying to shake him to death . The cat is particularly soppy/stupid and makes no attempt to scratch her! I managed to get her off him and shut her away. Cat was covered in slobber and could see where the teeth had been in her fur but no blood. He was fine. Anyway I decided the cat wasn't safe and because of all the little things adding up decided the dog was unpredictable and like having a loaded gun around the kids
    I spoke with a family member who has no kids and loves dogs has another dog she gets on well with and spends hours waking them a day. Pip wet to live with her. Whilst she loved them and was getting lots of exercise and it was the perfect home for her, pip clearly missed our family anf her anxiety went of the scale. She stayed there for 6 months (with us walking her and seeing her regularly too) but her anxiety became so bad she became agrophobic! Sometimes she point blank refused to leave the house, would drop to floor, shake, cower and no amount of coaxing/ignoring/dragging would get her up. Sometimes she would go and then suddenly break down on the walk and bolt bavk home over roads etc, very dangerous. Usually her recall etc is spot on but during these times it's non existant. So family member said along with having a go at other dogs walking was too stressful and she thought the dog too unhappy. So we had her back after 6 months. Pip has been back 3 weeks and she is soooo happy, most anxiety cut down still nervous type tho. She's walking fine 99% of the time with no dropping to ground etc. 90% of dog interaction fine 10% not.
    Anyway all was OK until I pulled up in car 2 nights ago. I could see thro the door to my husbands panicked face and knew what had happened. She was savaging the cat again! It was awful and a good minute or two before my husband managed to get her off Again thankfully no blood but I definitely think she was going for the shake and had she had a better angle/my husband not got her off she would of killed the cat. My husband immediately said she needs to be put down, what if one day the cat isn't there to redirect her aggression on to and she goes for our 1yr old.

    I've been thinking of every option and it's the only way forward I can see?
    I don't want to rehome her as my family member was the perfect home for her and she was miserable without our family who she is VERY attached to. Plus I would really worry about her being passed around and ending up in the wrong hands. I mean who else deliberately picks an unpredictable dog.
    I've had 2 different trainers/behaviourists here and both said she cannot be around the cat (even tho at all other times they cuddle, clean each other etc) because she is unpredictable. They also said although they can see how great she is with the kids and submissive to them, this could turn to aggression with an anxious dog and obviously she's powerful.
    I've had the vet look her over twice for any medical problem and he said there's none. Only that he can see she's an anxious, unbalanced dog and from what I've told him he advises I have her put to sleep

    I've decided that is the responsible thing to do as I'd never forgive myself if she attacked the kids or killed the cat. BUT then I look at her on the sofa cuddling the kids, them running around together with the hose in the garden, them throwing sticks for her on a walk and I listen to them begging me not to have her put dowj/send her away and it's killing me. I love this dog. I don't know whst to do. Ive thought about rehoming cat but I love him too and that sould still leave the problem that the dog is unpredictable If she can savage the cat who she loves and cuddles etc then why not the kids?

    What would you do in this situation thsmk you for reading . I'm sat in tears, this is such an awful situation.

    Edited to add... She has also growled (quiet and short) at my husband 3 times when being moved.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2018
  2. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    I'm so sorry you're in this position - it must be horrible. I've also been in the postion of wondering whether my dog would have to be euthanased because of behaviour issues and though we managed to work through it, if we had had young children it would have been very different.

    First thing - if you do decide on euthanasia, there will be those who will try to guilt-trip you. Ignore them - you are not making this decision lightly. They are probably the same people who would guilt-trip you if your dog did bite a family member.

    I suspect of your dog had intended to kill the cat she would have done - but that's irrelevant really, as she could kill the cat, intentionally or not.

    Would you consider muzzling her when in the house as well as outside? You'd want a basket muzzle that allows her to open her mouth wide so she can drink, pant, bark and so on. This could make your family and the cat safe, and you'll be able to manage her more calmly which in turn may make her feel calmer. You could of course monitor what her quality of life was like when muzzled, but it may be that she'll soon accept it as normal daywear.

    Also, have you talked to the vet about medication to help with her anxiety? This isn't always a solution as, from my understanding, as well as reducing anxiety it can reduce inhibition, but it would be worth considering.

    You say 'If she can savage the cat who she loves and cuddles etc then why not the kids?' Dogs are completely aware of the difference between humans and other animals. A human who hunts animals is no more likely to harm a human child than anyone else, and the soppiest of dogs can hate cats with a vengeance. Staffies particularly are known to be great with children. However, you do hear about Staffies (and other dogs) mauling children. Generally these are ones that have been treated badly and though this isn't the case with your dog, she did have a terible start which clearly affected her.

    Whatever you decide, know that you have made the best decision you can for everyone involved, and that you have given your dog the best life possible.
     
    leashedForLife likes this.
  3. Kara 1

    Kara 1 Active Member Registered

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    I really feel for you ...we have a jack russell who is unpredictable and nervous (although getting better after 4 yrs)we thought about having him put to sleep ....
    Can you seperate the dog from the cat via dog gates ....
    We had a foster dog with anxious behaviour lived with 5 other dogs but would go frantic around other dogs whilst out ...his behaviour became severe and with the advise from our head nurse and vet we let him go to sleep and released him from his demons ...
    It sounds like you have tried everything and i know living with an unpredictable dog is soul destroying. ...
     
  4. Doghelp1

    Doghelp1 New Member Registered

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    Thank you for your kind reply. I am very worried about people's reactions if we do pts. I worry people won't fully understand and think we're just putting her down to make it more convinient for us. My husband says he doesn't care about that just wants to keep our children safe and I know that's right but can't help worrying about it. Also he says we do deserve to have a happy life, not constant stress and worry about what might happen next and never being able to fully relax

    I hadn't thought about muzzling in the house so thank you for that idea but I personally don't think that's a good quality of life and I feel that if I think she needs those measures I obviously don't trust her so shouldn't have her in the house with the children. Also feel anxiety meds don't give a good quality of life and could make her more unpredictable. The vet said he wouldn't prescribe anxiety meds in this sort of situation where children are in the house.

    Thank you again
     
    Ragsysmum likes this.
  5. Mad Murphy

    Mad Murphy Well-Known Member Registered

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    When my dog Sheba got old she had started to lose her sight and was slightly deaf. My children were young and one day my son came running in with a friend. They were squealing and running and this must have startled Sheba she shot out from where she was sleeping and snapped at the little girl. She didnt make contact and we agonised for days before taking her to the vet. I stood there crying and he patted my shoulder.. 'better to let her go now while you cry tears of sadness and love over her than to wait until something awful happens and you bring her here with tears of regret and anger '

    I cant offer any other advice but we are not judging. Just sending love and support
     
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  6. Doghelp1

    Doghelp1 New Member Registered

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    Thank you for your kind words. Unfortunately baby Gates wouldn't work as the cat actively seeks out pip to sleep with her so would just hop over/through. Only option would be shutting them in different rooms which isn't a good option in my eyes as then neither are really part of the family and wth such a busy family running all over the houseits just not really feasible

    Thanks again
     
  7. Doghelp1

    Doghelp1 New Member Registered

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    Thank you so much. That's very true what your vet said, thank you for sharing and your kindness
     
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  8. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    A dog can be happy and relaxed in a muzzle. Mine is always muzzled on walks and loves his walks. I have no doubt that for him, wearing a muzzle in the house wouldn't mean he wouldn't have a good quality of life. But that's just one factor - even with a muzzle, things can go wrong. It's reduction of risk, not elimination.

    I'm with your husband on not caring about what people think. They will be wrong, you will be right, and that's all that matters. Easier said than done, but don't let it sway you from making the right decision. I'm sure you'll get nothing but support on this forum.
     
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  9. Doghelp1

    Doghelp1 New Member Registered

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    Thank you. Sorry should of been clearer .. I know pip wouldn't have a good quality of life in a muzzle. It would definitely have her quaking on the floor to have a muzzle on and while I'm sure eventually she could be desensitised to it I'd be worried about it sending her over the edge in the mean time.

    And you're right my worries about other people shouldn't sway my decision.

    Thanks again
     
    JudyN likes this.
  10. Josie

    Josie Administrator Administrator Registered

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    I’m sorry to hear about your sad predicament @Doghelp1 - it’s clear to see how much you love Pip and that you are doing your best for her. I think you’re right in not wanting to send her off to any other home - you don’t know what could come of her and it would be terrible if she was passed around from home to home.

    It’s all about quality of life - for her and your family x
     
  11. Doghelp1

    Doghelp1 New Member Registered

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    Thank you. I suppose the hardest thing for me is that the main decision is based on keeping our children safe and 99% I think she is safe with them but because she's shown herself to be unpredictable that 1% chance she could hurt them seems small... But unacceptable . Especially as she is strong enough to kill them. But I keep thinking what if all wet well and she grew old with them and we only had happy memories. But it's that risk and if she did attack them I couldn't say to myself there had been no warning signs. It's just so sad and we'll all be devestated .
    As you say tho I don't want her passed around or ending up in the wrong hands.
    Thanks for your support
     
  12. Drift's Owner

    Drift's Owner Member Registered

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    If you can't find a solution that makes you feel comfortable with your family at home, then perhaps try handing her to a charity for rehoming rather than pts? Dogs Trust don't put down dogs that are healthy & they keep many dogs for a long time and have them sponsored to help them with their problems & to prevent them from being put down. Just a thought. These types of charities deal with many dogs who have had these types of issues and probably a lot worse. They will also make sure if the dog was rehomed that your dog would go to a person/family that are experienced in such behavioural issues. I really feel for you. It is stressful for any owner to think that their dog could harm another animal or a person. It is great that you are taking a weighted decision, but if you can't feel relaxed at home in the current circumstances then it is best to consider an alternative as heart breaking as it is. Remember that you have provided your dog with a much better life than it ever would have had from where it started. Big hugs.
     
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  13. Doghelp1

    Doghelp1 New Member Registered

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    Thank you for another option. But definitely not what I want for her. She would be soooo unhappy in kennels, hanging around long term in kennels would be far worse for her than being pts.
    Thanks for your kind words
     
  14. Nanny71

    Nanny71 Well-Known Member Registered

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    Reading this reminds me of a friend many years ago who had to make this decision.. her dog was very like yours anxious and unpredictable.
    One day the dog cornered her husband in the kitchen and bit him badly on arms and leg. He managed to hold it off with a chair.
    Next day the dog was calm and appeared normal. However with two children they made the decision to have him put to sleep.
    This was 20 years ago and she still mentions it sometimes.
    My point is you can't take risks with children at home.
    Her dog was a black Labrador, not noted for aggression
     
  15. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    .


    I know that U worry, @Doghelp1 , that she is going to bite a person.
    HOWEVER - U’ve had her how long?... & in all that time, no one has been bitten.


    Everything that’s been suggested which might make either B-mod or a life with her safe & possible, has gotten a “yes, but...” reply from U. :(

    If my vet absolutely refused to consider anti anxiety Rx for my dog, who has lived with anxiety all her life, I would find another vet. I am not a vet, but I am a trainer who’s specialized in b-mod since 1985, & refusing to offer medication to an animal who is clearly in distress, is IMO, cruel.
    Glossing it over by blaming the dog, claiming she would “become unpredictable”, is ridiculous; if he truly believes that anti-anxiety meds would make her unpredictable , then muzzling her for a few weeks of treatment when she’s with the kids (supervised - as any dog should be, when with children) would eliminate the risk of a bite.

    A box muzzle doesn’t have to be worn for all of her remaining life; it can be used while her distressing anxiety & compulsive appeasing are worked on.

    If U feel she is a threat to the children, put her down. Agonizing over it won’t make it easier. :(

    If U want to try to work on her grinding anxiety, I would A, find another vet - & B, find an experienced behaviorist, with credentials, not a Dog-listener, dog-whisperer a’la Cesar Milan, or any self-nominated “dog expert”.
    U can’t do this solo, U need professional help to reshape this poor dog into a happier emotional & mental state.

    The ABTC, a recently founded body that accredits qualified behaviorists in the UK, enfolds a large number of subordinate member organizations, such as the APBC / COAPE, etc.
    Their list of certified behaviorists can be found here:

    ABTC Register of Accredited Animal Behaviourists - The Animal Behaviour and Training Council

    Whatever U decide, this is a choice no one but U and Ur spouse or partner can make; it is a matter of working to try to fix her, or deciding she cannot be fixed, which could be lack of means, not lack of desire.
    No one can judge the circumstances and know what resources U have, of time, money, everything that may be needed. I hope U are eventually sure in yourselves that U did indeed choose right FOR YOU, and for the dog.

    - terry

    .
     
  16. merlina

    merlina Well-Known Member Registered

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    Certainly do understand your desperation- we've had very difficult rescue dogs, one cat and bunny killer, a chicken mangler- and our current one was due for pts on the Friday of the week we got him. He's had us both in A&E. We don't have children in the home so that's a huge factor. Why don't you seek the advice of Dog's Trust? They may be able to offer an assessment or at least advice. Secondly don't be too certain you know what your dog feels- I know that nowadays after much experience I often don't. I've worked in rescue where dogs often come in from owners who are genuinely beside themselves- and convinced it would be kinder to go the pts road. BUT I've also seen the same dogs after a couple of months calm down, take to therapy and go on to have forever homes with new owners. Be totally honest with any rescue you approach to give your dog the best chance of re-forming with expert help.

    We think we're the centre of the universe to our dogs. So we are sometimes- and so is their next owner!
     
  17. millymojo1

    millymojo1 Member Registered

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    Are you living in England? If so I know a brilliant rescue place in the south east. The lady takes in dogs like this all the time. She is very strict and particular about finding he right home. And while they’re with her they live as a pack and have lots of space to play and run (arces). Only very extreme cases live separately.
     
  18. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    I know a similar one in Dorset - let me know if you'd like details.
     
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  19. Walkiestime

    Walkiestime Member Registered

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    Hi

    I have rescues and I know what you are going through. I have learnt what triggers my main dogs anxiety and I do manage it as the dog has to understand that I am the pack leader. He has calmed down a lot. Go to that lady in Dorset I have heard good things. I have had my rescues for 3 years and it takes time trust me you have to put the work in and it’s a whole family thing. Don’t go to the likes of the dog father he is absolutely rubbish a lot of money for breaking the spirit of a dog and dragged my dog down the road I nearly punched him - not the way to go.

    Do what you need to do to keep you all safe but give this lady a go.
     
  20. Flobo

    Flobo Well-Known Member Registered Partner

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    I cried reading your post because I can feel the love you have for your dog and the total dilemma you are in. You know your dog, that is all I can say, the decision you make is yours, and know that whatever that may be, it is done with love, there are options out there as mentioned above, would moving her add to her trauma and anxiety or eventually help her? No one can say.. we are responsible for these souls, my heart goes out to you..
     

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