Should I get a dog, even though my husband has a slight tendancy to violence?
December 9, 2011 7:40 AM Subscribe
My husband has anger issues. We are considering getting a dog, but I'm not sure I trust him to appropriately express his anger around the dog. What should I do?
posted by anonymous to Pets & Animals (33 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My father was an angry man. He never hurt me or my sister physically, but he would get angry about the slightest thing (like one of us spilling a drink) and yell at us, break things, throw things, mess things up, punch the walls, kick the trash and be generally menacing. My mother has never said that he hurt her, but I wonder. These were everyday occurrences. As a result, I have significant issues around anger -- I don't deal with it well, and I don't know how to evaluate it. I don't have a good sense of whether a certain level of anger is appropriate for a given situation, because I either shut down completely when I'm around an angry person, or I rush around trying to fix everything and make it better. Either way, I feel panicked and out of control when I'm around an angry person.
As things have turned out, I've married an angry man. He is not at all in the same league with my dad. He occasionally gets angry (maybe once every 2-3 weeks), and will growl at me and sometimes hit things. He's aggressive when he hits things. He broke a kitchen appliance once by hitting it. He broke the inside of the car door once by hitting it. He got into a small fight on an airplane once while deplaning (it was limited to shoving). I've never seen him hit anyone, and he's never hit me or hurt me psychically. He did threaten to hit me once (I left the house with my cat and didn't go home again for a month, until after he started therapy and we both started couples therapy). After a lot of hard work, I feel safe around him. He has made significant changes to his behavior, and recognizes that these changes are good for him -- he's not doing it just for me. It's very, very rare that he hits things these days (I've seen him do it once in the last year), but I still see that his anger is there. I'm ok with that. I'm not asking him to not be angry, as long as it is expressed appropriately.
We are thinking of getting a dog. We've had cats before, but don't have any pets now. He was very good with the cats and never hurt or threatened them. They loved him, and he had a special bond with them. For various reasons, a dog would be a better choice than a cat for us right now. As children we both had dogs and liked them, but neither of us have had a dog as an adult.
Here's the problem. My dad physically abused my sister's dog. My dad would get angry at the dog, and would corner it and grab it. He would beat it. One time he kicked it so hard it flew through the air. The dog became aggressive. It bit one of my sister's friends pretty badly, and had to be put to sleep.
I'm really excited about the idea of having a dog, but I'm completely terrified that my husband might be violent with it, just like my dad was. Because I don't deal with anger well, I don't know how to evaluate the likelihood of this happening.
What should I do? Should we go back to the therapist before we get a dog so that we have some help talking about this? Am I being unreasonably worried? My husband is different enough from my Dad, that I really think this couldn't happen -- but I can't be sure. Do I have to be sure, given the small (I think) likelihood? Is anyone really sure that their spouse won't abuse a pet? I mean, is this even a consideration for most people?
Other details: We do not have kids and are not going to. We probably won't have any other pets except the dog. If we don't get a dog, we will probably get a cat, even though that's not our preference right now. Dog would be an adult rescue, not a puppy, and I won't adopt a dog that isn't crate- and house-trained already.