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Yesterday, my husband and I decided it was time to give up our male dog, Ivan. He'll be going back to the shelter we got him from as a 6 week old puppy. It is a no-kill shelter, and full of loving employees and volunteers.

And I don't know if I can do this. My eyes are swollen from crying off and on for hours last night. My animals ARE my kids. I carried him around in a sling when he was a puppy. I hand fed him his kibble to socialize him. [He was weird even at 6 weeks].

The bottom line is that he is not a good dog for our family, and it is dangerous to keep him. We've done so much to work with him, and with a strange daily living situation we've managed to make things work, but his behavior is regressing and is reminding us that he's not in a good home. We can't give him what he needs and what the rest of the critters and baby need, at the same time.

Did I mention my heart is being ripped from my chest as I type?

Background:
Ivan is a 3 yr old Rhodesian Ridgeback mix. He has dominance issues, and dog-aggression issues. He has been threatening to people. He hates all other animals kinds. I socialized him extensively when he was little - and he never stopped distrusting the cats/horses whatever he was exposed to. We have three cats, so this is a concern. He is afraid of strangers, and very protective of his house/yard. I never wanted a guard dog. I've got one.

He is also prone to extreme anxiety and "tantrums." The tantrums can be scary, and handled wrong they could be dangerous.

Last winter, he attacked my female twice in one week, requiring trips to the vet and stitches each time. In retrospect, I see that the fight had been brewing for a long time. She should have been alpha, but he would bully bully bully. And then one day he snapped, and hurt her. At that point we sought an evaluation and training with a respected behaviorist/trainer who works with aggressive dogs. He felt Ivan could be worked with, but that he was definately not normal. It was not normal for him to have attacked our female, based on standard dog dynamics. She is a lab-pit mix with the personality of a lab. She is smaller than he is, and no match in a fight. She was the person in the family he bonded to most when we brought him home. She was an older puppy when we got him, and he adored her. He still adores her, when he gets his way.

The dogs have been kept separate for the last year. Slowly, we have begun letting them have supervised play in the house, but they will never be safe together in the yard. I have a playden in my living room for Ivan, and an xpen upstairs. We work hard to keep him contained but with the family. In the yard, he runs for an hour or two everyday. He runs in response to the dogs next door. He is extremely fit and strong.

We've managed this last year. The correction training helped, and he loved to work. Keep in mind that prior to working with a specialist, both my dogs had taken three obediance courses each. My female passed CGC, and Ivan missed it by one test. This was when he was a year old, and while he had personality problems then, the scary stuff started at 18 months, which I now know is a prime time for male dogs to become aggressive. I guess what I'm trying to say is that he was never an untrained, unsocialized dog.

Typing this is helping me calm down. I need to pull it together because I really am beside myself.

To the present: I noticed within the last few weeks he has been showing some attitude with me. (We haven't done serious training in a while. Life is busy around here. We never had time in the first place, with a high needs baby, but we made time). I realized we needed to start training up again.
I was going to start taking him to class this weekend.

Yesterday, he pulled major attitude and I was in a position that I had to back down, for concern that he would escalate. I had my female and the baby underfoot. He was excited to go for a walk, and would not let me put him in his playden while I got everyone ready. He always waits in his playden durng this time. Even with the prong collar on, I could not get him into the den or into the yard. He refused, and I wasn't about to force it because it could have been ugly. Eventually I got him to go into the den with a liver treat, but I realized it is CRAZY to own a dog that scares you. STUPID to own a dog you can't control, not in a house with a toddler and another dog and three cats. I cried the whole walk.

I love this dog to pieces. He is family.

He is not right for our home.

He likes the baby, and has never been a problem with her. Of course, I am extra super duper careful about it all. But what happens when one day, at 3 or 5 or 7, she tries to make him do something he doesn't want to do? What happens when he decides the "puppy" is getting bossy with him and needs to know where she stands? She is not a threat to him right now (20 months), but one day she will be.

I can't let that happen.

And I don't know how I can let him go. The kennel environment will be bad for him. But maybe there is a chance he can find the right home. A better home for him. A home where his positive qualities can be nurtured. (He does have positive qualities).

Please reassure me or give me a hug or something because I feel like I'm dying inside.
 

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It sounds like you've done everything you can to make it work. I'm sorry you have to make such a tough choice, but you have to do it. You can't live with a dog that you're afraid of and you can't control. I'm sure he will find a good home
 

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Dechen,

My heart is breaking for you. Your post is so full of grief and heartache. I am so sorry. I'm in the boat you are, except I just couldn't go through with it. My situation is a much smaller female (spitz - eskimo dog type) and it involves putting her to sleep. The difference is that she has bitten many times. I posted about a year or so ago and really should have put Roxy down. I simply could not do it.

I commend you for taking him to the shelter. You are so brave. I can't imagine having to deal with Roxy at that size and strength.

I don't want to rub salt in the wound, but you are doing the right thing. I didn't recognize the signs and now I have a biter. You are helping your dog before it's too late. You have a choice now. The shelter will take him and take care of him.

Oh my gosh! You have done everything humanly possible to work with this dog. Not to mention rescuing him in the first place!

Just wanted to say that I feel your pain and that I am so sorry



 

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I think you have done all you can do. Prozac might help but at this point it seems like there has been too much negative impact on the rest of the family, most especially you. You can't go on like this. Let the shelter try the Prozac suggestion.
You are brave.
 

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When I was little, we had an Alsation that was the same way. My Dad was in the Air Force, and we gave Saber to the guard dog training program. It was perfect for him. He had a handler that was super, a really neat guy and Saber lived with him and worked with him 24/7.

He guarded the airstrip on the base we had lived on, walking patrol with his human.

Though I believe they usually want younger dogs, it's a thought. Is there a military base or law enforcement agency nearby that you could contact?

Just an idea. Sorry you are going through this.
 

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oh mama I have traveled down this path myself and it is not an easy..Its a tough decision but you really are making the best choice. have you tried www.petfinders.com thats what we did..and now are dog has a wonderful home with no children..because we disclosed all his unfamily friendly traits..its been 2.5 years and I still my my Jasperboy
 

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Dechen, honestly I'm not the least bit surprised the shelter won't take him, it's just far to high a liability. I agree you've done what you can do and I agree this is not a dog to be in ahome with a young child. That said, as his owner, I also think it's up to you to take him to be put down humanely. My reasons are as follows

1) How will you feel if someone takes him thinking they can handle him and he badly hurts a child?
2) How would you feel about healthy friendly dogs "not making it" because of resources placed into a dog that has issues--if a respected trainer told you this dog is not right--he's probably not right.
3) How will you feel if he goes to the wrong kind of home *because* of his aggression and is then abused.

I had a ridgeback cross, he was NEVER right in the head. He is the reason I got into dog training and I had him perfect, then one day my little brother's friend came over. Bear had been raised with this child, Roy and my brother were best friends. Roy came in, Bear walked up, sniffed him, wagged his tail and the jumped him, hurting him very badly--and we were all standing right there-so he was pulled off imediately. I hauled him off, pinned him to a wall, shook him and when I put him down he wagged his tail and looked blankly at the wall like nothing had happened. He was put down that day. Roy still has scars on his face, 20 yrs later. I only wish I'd acted on his earlier episodes of phycosis.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I can't say the thought hasn't occurred to me, Shannon.



I look at him, and I keep thinking "If we work hard enough, if we do this or that. If we train with him every day...." Etc.

My husband contacted a local Ridgeback rescue and they said they'd list him, but he didn't explain the dog's problems yet. They have a very detailed questionaire, and as I started to fill it out I thought, "How can this dog find a safe, loving home given his problems?" It seems impossible. I don't know that they'd list him once they read what I write, anyway.

I have a friend in lab rescue and she is convinced the right home exists for him somewhere, but she has no experience with this kind of dog. I love her dearly, but she argued with me when I told her he has a very poor temperament. He's my baby and I love him but he's nuts.

I feel sick.

ETA - the shelter didn't even hear what his problems are. They simply said "No we don't accept dogs with behavior problems."
 

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I'm so sorry and I really hope I didn't come across as harsh, I certainly didn't mean to. There is just nothing worse than putting a healthy dog down and yeah, you always ask yourself if you could have done something different. Honestly, I don't think you could have so please don't beat yourself up over it. As a rule a fixable dog can be vastly improved with just about any type of training if the owner is vigilant, by the sounds of things you were absolutely vigilant and have gone above and beyond--I don't know that I'd be able to live happily with one dog locked up and another not and constantly wondering when the next trouble will start.

On a side note, I had a client with a lab cross who was very aggressive with their new baby, the dog was huge and she was the 3rd dog in my 15 yr career I recomended be put down instead of working with her. The owner chose instead to give the dog to lab rescue but was less than honest about her behavior problems. 3 weeks into the dog's new home it mauled the new owners granddaughter--she'd been in the house for 8 minutes at the time. The old owners were charged with a few things, the primary being negligence that endangered human life. While I didn't seek out being questioned, their friend who referred them to me in the first place, told the investigator that I had "trained the dog" I was brought into court and had to say I'd advised the dog be put down. It's just very messy attempting to rehome a dog that isn't all there-theyr'e just too hard to predict.

You have provided Ivan a good home and a bigger chance than most would have given him. His life has been happy, but you do need to consider there may be something very wrong with him on a neurological level. Perhaps you could honor him by rescueing another dog and providing it with a chance too.

 

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I would keep trying with the Rhodesian Ridgeback rescue. They can list them so that they go to a home without kids or other pets.

I'm sorry mama, how very hard but I agree that you cant keep him if he is a danger to your family.
 

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we were there a couple of years ago myself. pretty much the same thing except our dog was older. he never got used to anyone but my dh and i. and no one would take him--because he wouldn't let anyone near him. we unfortunately had to put him to sleep because he could not be trusted around children and we decided to start our family. i'm sorry you are going through this mama...
 
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