Help me with my crazy dog
November 6, 2010 4:14 PM   Subscribe

Help! My 3 year old dog is vicious and demented

We got my dog when he was a few months old, about 3 years ago. He was pretty well behaved as a puppy, but as he grew up he has become uncontrollable. He is a mutt and part mountain dog, so he is about 80 pounds.

When he was a puppy, we took him to obedience classes with other dogs at Petco, and he was fine. He was friendly to people and other animals. I can't remember when, but somewhere along the line he just went off the deep end. We have had dogs and cats forever and treat them as part of the family, so I don't think it has anything to do with us.

He is extremely protective of my mother and goes crazy when anyone leaves the house. About a year after we got him, my aunt came to visit. He was fine and just excited to see new people but when he saw my aunt next to my mother, he bit her hand. She had to go to ER and get stitches, it was pretty bad.

A few months after that, he bit me. My mom was sitting down on the couch and he was on the floor in front of the couch. I went to sit down with my mom, and he jumped up on the couch and locked on to my arm. I had to get stitches and I have a 6 inch scar on my arm.

After that, everybody was telling us to put him down. As a last resort, we sent him to a very expensive "doggy boot camp" for 3 months. He knows all the commands ("sit", "stay", "drop it" etc) and listens to them. My parents went for 6 lessons, and they taught them how to practice the commands and how to let the dog know they are the leaders.

They still practice the commands with him but we still can't have anybody come over to the house. On the rare occasion we do, he stays in the (finished) basement with my father, but he cries and whines the ENTIRE time. We had new carpets put in and it took about 3 hours, and he whined almost the entire time. Last time we did this, we put a gate at the bottom of the stairs, my mom brought him down some new water and he tried to bite her while she trying to go back upstairs.

He also tries to escape through the garage door whenever anyone leaves the house. If we try to push him back in, he will bite. We have solved this by telling him to sit in his bed, and it works fine - I'm just including this so you see how he acts. If the cats knock something off their window perch or someone leaves something laying around, he will take it and destroy it. If we try to take it off him, he will bite, so we usually have to pretend we have food or something else for him. It's like once he gets an idea in his head (going outside, eating something) there is absolutely no way of stopping him without him biting.

If my mom is home, he almost walks on her heels following her everywhere. If she isn't home, he will follow me everywhere. If he is left alone, he will go into his bed and stick his head under his paw. And whenever anyone comes back home, he jumps on them, whines for about 5 minutes and will pee if he is really excited.

The vet put him on a low dosage of an anti-anxiety drug. It has made absolutely no difference in anything.

He is not a horrible dog - he likes to play, tries to make me feel better when he knows I'm upset, loves the cats etc. He is also really cute. It's just in certain situations he totally loses it.

Does anyone have any advice, or any experience in dealing with a crazy dog? We are hoping he calms down as he gets older, but I don't know if anything can be done about the protectiveness and the aggression.
posted by anonymish to Pets & Animals (45 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Your dog is a walking time bomb. 2 ER trips already and he's only 3?

How far are you willing to go to solve this? Are you willing to spend the thousands of dollars it will take to have one or several behavioral experts evaluate him? Would the entire family be willing to spend hours every day working with the dog and following professional guidance to the letter, never ever letting your guard down for the rest of the dogs life?

If not, and as an animal lover I hate to say this, but put him down. No good will come out of this situation -- he's going to get loose one day and seriously injure or maybe even kill someone.
posted by zug at 4:31 PM on November 6, 2010 [13 favorites]

More than the thousands of dollars for behavior experts, are you willing to pay the thousands of dollars for lawsuits from people he bites in the future? I agree with Zug - put him down.
posted by eleslie at 4:40 PM on November 6, 2010 [5 favorites]

as an animal lover I hate to say this, but put him down find a rescue group with experience that will take him and try to train him.
posted by inigo2 at 4:40 PM on November 6, 2010

Have you considered talking to a behaviorist, instead of a vet? The escaping and the destroying of things sounds like extreme separation anxiety. The biting also sounds like some sort of anxious behavior, though I couldn't really say what. Last time I went the the Humane Society, they had a behaviorist on staff. Maybe you could get some help there. Chances are, that given a more clear direction on what they're supposed to do, your dog will gladly comply. Otherwise, you might have to go with zug's resolution.
posted by Gilbert at 4:41 PM on November 6, 2010

I'm really sorry but he tries to escape, he's 80 pounds, and he bites. How are you going to feel when he escapes and attacks a child? Plus he's gotten more agressive as he's aged, not less. There may be something physically wrong in his brain but fixing something like that could cost you a bundle. Putting him down seems like the only reasonable option.
posted by chairface at 4:42 PM on November 6, 2010 [5 favorites]

The conventional wisdom I've learned: once a biter, always a biter. You can't trust this dog around, well, anybody apparently. You should also tell your mom not to go near children when the dog is around.
posted by rhizome at 4:48 PM on November 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

We have had dogs and cats forever and treat them as part of the family, so I don't think it has anything to do with us.

I'm sorry, but after all the money you've spent on obedience classes, it still DOES have to do with you. Your parents went to six classes teaching them how to be the leader of the dog -- are they practicing what they learned? If the doggy boot camp people were able to handle him without incident for three months, why can't you?

I would say: figure out what you are doing wrong, talk to your vet about dog prozac, or look for a rescue society.
posted by emyd at 4:52 PM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Reach out to some behavioral trainers, but you should probably begin to prepare yourself now if you need to put him down. It is the only responsible thing to do. I manage a dog daycare, and I have had lots of dogs throughout my life. There is no such thing as a reformed dog, only an old and tired dog that has no fight left. I really hate to say it, but it's true.

The biggest problem here is that he is completely unpredictable. So he's great more than half the time, so what? That just makes it more likely that you will let your guard down one too many times. Go back and read what you wrote. He is great until you try to make him do something he doesn't want to do. This won't stop.
posted by InsanePenguin at 4:52 PM on November 6, 2010

My little brother was bitten in the neck and almost killed by a neighbor dog that was far less crazy and violent than the behavior you've described. Please put him down before he mauls or kills a child.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:59 PM on November 6, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: 2nding Gilbert's suggestion of consulting with a behaviorist. They're certified, which assures a level of training and knowledge that your average dog trainer may not have, and use science-based approaches to correcting behavior. Link to behaviorist locator.

Good luck. I feel for you as I've been there and it's not an easy place to be. Thank you for loving your dog and doing your best for him.
posted by choochoo at 5:03 PM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

My first thought is to give him away to some professional rescue type.

My second thought is to muzzle him when you suspect he's going to be unstable. And then get the tape of the show with the white shepherd who had separation anxiety.

Keep him muzzled while you do the exercises he shows. People going in and out while being forced to sit still.

Also Consider buying a large sturdy crate for when strangers are going to be around.
posted by AuntieRuth at 5:07 PM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

You definitely need a behaviorist. Even though he's been to training and all that, he still thinks he's in charge. The behaviorist will tell you what you are doing wrong (sorry, but this likely lies with the management), and you may be able to work from there.
posted by bolognius maximus at 5:15 PM on November 6, 2010

Try finding a veterinary behaviorist or a behavior clinic with applied animal behaviorists working as a team with veterinary health professionals through AVSAB, or by contacting the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. Depending on your location, I know Tufts has a great program, and NC State also has good people specializing in behavior.

Veterinary behaviorists are veterinarians with extra training--usually a residency with board certification--in behavior.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 5:31 PM on November 6, 2010
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 5:32 PM on November 6, 2010

I was spontaneously attacked by a dog who'd "always been wonderful with children" when I was a ten-year-old Girl Scout selling cookies door-to-door. It would be melodramatic to say that I still have the scars – only I can tell where they are amid the stretch marks and cellulite – but I was lucky that he got the fat pad of the back of my thigh.

I've learned to trust and love dogs since then, and I've also come to feel a lot more sorry for the poor owner of that dog than for myself*. And I feel genuinely bad for you. I feel just as bad as if you'd told me he had stomach cancer, and you were trying to figure out how to pursue treatment. Aggression in a dog is a fatal disease.

You do, however, have to face the possibility that the next person he attacks may not be a family member, may not be an adult, and may not pull through without permanent damage.

What are you prepared to do to keep this dog? What will make you feel safe with him, safe about him? I think you were taken with “doggie boot camp” – training the dog is pointless unless the family is trained as well. What’s going to be good enough that, if he attacks someone in the future, you will not feel foolish saying, “we took these steps and we thought the problem was over”?
posted by endless_forms at 5:35 PM on November 6, 2010

I'm inclined to agree with those who believe the dog should be put down, for his sake as well as the rest of the world's. But...

As a last ditch effort, you may have him undergo a neurological exam. Honestly, my first thought was that he may have a tumor or somesuch. Especially when the transition from sweet puppy to psychodog was pretty abrupt.

A vet neurologist should be able to do a brief, noninvasive exam to determine if there's any point in exploring further. Your regular vet should be able to recommend someone, or else I would suggest calling the nearest veterinary school. You'll probably have to muzzle the dog for the exam.

Having been through something similar once before, I found the vets we consulted to be unfailingly honest about what could be done, what the prognosis would be, and remarkably sensitive in advising how difficult it might be for the dog and how costly it would be for us.
posted by DrGail at 5:37 PM on November 6, 2010

If he bites you, he's not going to hesitate to bite your cats. What happens if he goes after one and it lashes out to protect itself?

Obviously the risk
of human bites is paramount, here, but let's not forget the kitties.

I know you love this dog, and that he feels like a member of the family, but biters don't reform, not really. To be honest I'm surprised Animal Control hasn't taken him already. Don't most places have a one-bite rule?
posted by sugarfish at 6:05 PM on November 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

When my sister and I were little, we were playing in the backyard when the neighbors' bulldog, who was cute but out of control, escaped from their house and bit my sister. We'd played with him before without incident, but this time he went after her and clamped his mouth around her lower leg.

They didn't get rid of the dog after this first incident, and soon afterward, the woman became pregnant. She had a difficult pregnancy and was napping on the couch one afternoon when the dog attacked her. He bit her face pretty extensively and she bled a great deal because of the increased blood volume associated with pregnancy. The dog was put to sleep, unfortunately.

Your dog may not have to be euthanized, but if you cannot control his behavior, please consider surrendering him to a rescue that can before something truly awful happens. I love animals, but I don't think this current situation is fair to anyone, your dog included.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 6:06 PM on November 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

My mother had a little dog (Jack Russell) that was sweet and lovely and well behaved, EXCEPT a bit nippy. She did everything she could to stop the biting: dog behaviourists, a muzzle in public, vet assessments... She mostly had it under control.

Then the neighbour's toddler came to the door and the dog bit him in the face.

Fortunately the dog was tiny, so it did some damage and probably put the kid off dogs for life, but it didn't kill him. Your dog could KILL a child.

I was going to recommend more training and a muzzle, until I saw the photo. That is a big dog. Put him down.
posted by lollusc at 6:11 PM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

The more I reread and think about your problem, the more worried I become.

"We have had dogs and cats forever and treat them as part of the family, so I don't think it has anything to do with us."

Your attitude scares me. You're convinced this isn't really your problem and you clearly want somebody else to come in and fix this for you (hence doggy 'boot camp'). Your dog WILL NOT get better without extensive behavior modification, and by that I mean your entire family's and not just the dog's. Calling in a behavioral consultant is great, but only if both you and your family are willing to turn your lives upside down to fix this, and even then you must be prepared to fail.

Please, please do not brush what I am saying off. If your parents and you are not willing to personally make SURE the dog can be no risk to anybody around it, including yourselves, put him down.
posted by zug at 6:16 PM on November 6, 2010 [3 favorites]

I'd like to make a point about psychotropic medications in animals, because Ib saw a mention of 'doggie Prozac.' Medications such as SSRIs can be very useful and restore quality of life for animals as well as humans. However, some psychotropic agents are disinhibiting, and depending on the type of aggression(s) the dog is displaying (which can't be adequately determined in a written description online), adding on a drug that reduces anxiety and inhibition may lead to more outward displays of aggressive incidents, not fewer. This is why everyone needs to be on the same page about what is going on with the dog, and your behaviorist, your veterinarian and/or veterinary behaviorist and your family need to have good lines of communication. Do not downplay what is going on, make sure everyone understands what behavioral modifications you're using, whether or not there are complicating medical issues or if medication is appropriate and what kind and how it's being administered, and if you want your dog to have any shot at success, be upfront about how your family interacts with the dog as well.

It's not a time to save face or minimize, or think 'well, *mostly* we do X, so that's close enough.' I'm not saying that's what you're trying to do here at all: I'm just emphasizing that your dog's chances improve the more you can be open and accurate. Like, when I attend therapy, my therapist's recommendations are hindered if I withhold information about what's going on with me, even if I'm embarrassed or feel like I failed. Your dog can tell behaviorists and vets a lot without words, but he needs you and your family to lay things out about his life and routines and consistency, both for his sake and the people he meets.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 6:17 PM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Is this dog worth losing your house over? Because if he gets loose and severely injures someone or worse, the lawyers WILL come after you guys tooth and fang.

Be responsible. Either get him to a rescue group or have him put to sleep.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:18 PM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Put that dog done. Is is a potentially lethal danger to you and anybody near it. That dog could kill somebody. Kill someone. Imagine that.

Put the dog down, as soon as possible, and consider carefully future pet purchases in the future.
posted by smoke at 6:23 PM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

I only have experience with one behaviorist, but he clearly did not believe that any dog ever needed to be put to sleep, no matter how bad their behavior. I have no idea if this is a common belief among the members of that profession. My concern is that you may not get a realistic assessment from a behaviorist who believes there is no such thing as a viscous dog. If you go that route, talk to more than one, or maybe also talk to a vet, or ask the behaviorist if he has ever recommended putting a dog to sleep due to a history of biting. (Like sugarfish, I'm worried about your kitties. They have no choice about living with this dangerous animal and could easily be killed.) I am so sorry your family is dealing with this. It must be so hard, but it really does sound like he needs to be put to sleep.
posted by Mavri at 6:29 PM on November 6, 2010

I had a dog that succumbed to this very thing several years ago, so I will spell out my advice in terms of what I would do if I was starting down this road again.

First, I would take him to at least two other vets for a full workup, just to rule out anything like physical issues, pain, or discomfort, and because (in my own experience) while there's many good veterinarians, a nontrivial number of vets out there don't seem to know what they're doing or are not very attentive or knowledgeable. I'm not saying I'm second-guessing your vet, but rather the idea is to maximize the information to act upon and to make sure that you don't look back years from now thinking "what if it was this or that".

Once you rule out physical issues, you can work on behavioral training. But if the dog does not show progress then you may indeed be looking at some kind of mental deterioration. If that's the case, yes, "ticking time bomb" is appropriate -- you basically are exposing other people to a loaded weapon, and behavioral training is not going to fix a deep-rooted psychiatric or brain-rooted issue. At that point then you're looking at helping him move on, with dignity and with his family at his side rather than at the hands of animal control or a painful, drawn-out demise.

Anyhow I do hope that this turns out to be a behavioral issue.. that would be great news indeed.
posted by crapmatic at 6:37 PM on November 6, 2010

Are there any young children in your family? If not, do you think there will be any in the next 5 years? Would you allow this dog, even if he successfully completes dog training, around small children? What if he gets out of the garage? This is an 80lb dog - sadly, this changes things a lot. He's not a bitey little chihuahua. He could seriously injure or kill a small child. I know that he's not all bad, but he's NOT safe. I am a total dog lover, but I would put him down. I'm sorry.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 7:47 PM on November 6, 2010

I haven't taken the time to read all the current replies yet.
PLEASE look into "rage syndrome" for fogs.
We had a dog that developed rage syndrome. The vet said that it usually manifests itself at about age three.
posted by Drasher at 7:55 PM on November 6, 2010

Uh... not fogs, "dogs".
posted by Drasher at 7:56 PM on November 6, 2010

The Wikipedia article about "rage syndrome" says that Bernese mountain dogs are one of the breeds known to be susceptible.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:54 PM on November 6, 2010

The key element of Rage Syndrome is that the attacks are unprovoked, random, and out of the blue. In this case, your dog is clearly reacting (viciously) to what someone else is doing.

This is not a phase he's going to grow out of. Your family cannot control this dog. By the sounds of it, you may need to literally stage a family intervention to get everyone to face the magnitude of this problem.

You (collectively) have exactly four options:

1. Do nothing. He will get worse and worse. He has already sent several people to the ER, and you yourself have a six-inch scar. Please understand that things will only go downhill from here.

2. Have him put to sleep. (Note that this is what the law would require, if the authorities were notified of his actions to date.)

3. Spend thousands of dollars on a dog behaviorist.

4. Release him to a rescue organization. Given his track record of sending people to the ER, I don't know of an organization that would take him in. But a couple people have mentioned it, so maybe they're out there.

(Don't just take him to a shelter - they will put him to sleep ASAP once they hear his history.)
posted by ErikaB at 9:28 PM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

ErikaB, I don't think #4 is actually an option unless the family lies about the dog's past to a rescue organization. Every single website I read emphasizes that rescue organizations do not accept aggressive animals and explains in great detail why this is so.

In essence, the limited resources of rescue agencies are better spent on adoptable dogs. A dog this dangerous is not adoptable, not to mention a major legal liability for that organization.
posted by zug at 9:50 PM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

This dog is dangerous to you and everyone around it. You can throw a lot of money after solutions that might work, but the putting it down is the only guaranteed solution.
posted by Menthol at 10:42 PM on November 6, 2010

Your dog's trouble. It's going to seriously injure or kill someone someday. You need to take care of it.
posted by Sternmeyer at 10:58 PM on November 6, 2010

I would explore options to modify his behavior but this sounds really severe. He's already maimed two people. Someday, you will be leaning over to pick something off of the floor, the dog is going to think you're taking away his property, and the dog will go for your face. A six-inch scar might be ok on the hand but I doubt you want to give this dog one of your eyes.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:50 AM on November 7, 2010

I'm trying to think what I would do if one of our pups was like would be painful, but I think I'd have to have them put down. The risks otherwise are just too great. I mourn the loss of any animal but I cannot imagine trying to look someone in the eye who my dog has just attacked, or has just attacked their loved one.

I guess I would give a behaviorist a shot but as pointed out up-thread, in addition to the physical harm which may come to you or one of the family, if the dog gets out and does serious damage to someone else you could be looking at losing all you own, perhaps even being criminally charged, and the dog is going to be put down in the end.
posted by maxwelton at 1:49 AM on November 7, 2010

My in-laws once had a much less aggressive dog that would bite, but never anything that left stitches or scars and never showed any aggression to anyone living in their house.

Until one day she killed their other dog, a 80lb rottweiler.

There were months of "we need to do something about this" and that something wasn't ever done. And this dog was less aggressive than your dog by a mile. It must be heartbreaking to think about putting your dog down. It's heartbreaking to me, and I don't even know your dog. But please don't ignore the people in this thread and continue with status quo.

Just two days ago, a 4 year old boy was attacked in my town by a dog in a house he was visiting. The dog was shut in a bedroom and tied up with a leash and still grabbed the boy in an instant. He's lucky he lived. So you really, really just cannot mitigate the damage here. Your dog goes outside to pee, right? He may escape one day. Every dog on my street has escaped once in the last couple of years (they all stop outside my fence and have a mutual barkfest with my dog). Even the ones with the most awesome and vigilant owners. Your dog will either attack a child, or attack someone trying to help it find its way home.
posted by kpht at 5:13 AM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I had to put a dog down once. He was a purebred Treeing Walker Coonhound, about three, perfectly healthy although blind and completely insane. We went through months of anguish trying everything we could think of to turn this dog around. Eventually I had to accept the fact that I had failed, that love had failed and training had failed and the dog was actually dangerous. I have had dogs my entire life; currently, I have three of them. They're great. All my other dogs have always been fine. I had always been a firm believer in the whole No Bad Dogs Only Bad Owners deal, until there was Jackson. I had to finally accept that he needed more help than I, or maybe anybody, could ever give him. It was a horrible realization and taking the dog to the pound for euthanasia was the worst trip I have ever made in my entire life. But I still don't regret it although I do kind of regret the six months it took me to make the decision and the stress he inflicted on my family, friends and neighbors.

Jackson never actually bit anyone hard enough to draw blood, either, although he came damn close. If he had I think maybe my decision would have been quicker and easier. He had terrible food aggression issues: he cornered my son in his bedroom for three hours once and kept him there, growling, and one time I had to beat him away from the dogfood cupboard in the kitchen with a broom handle. He attacked a friend's dog one night at my door, which was bad, and then he became fixated on the fireplace and tried to dig up the bricks until his paws bled, baying up the chimney for literally 12 and 13 hours at a time. Other than that and the way he would get out of the fence and tree something and refuse to leave or (and this was actually funny) become obsessed by the neighbor's swimming pool and circle it for hours, yeah, he was a nice dog. He could be great fun. Watching my other dog figure out that he was blind and then adapt his own behavior to compensate was one of the greatest things I've ever seen. But. He was, like your dog, a ticking time bomb because he was 70 pounds of completely unpredictable mayhem. There was no way to know what might ever set him off.

There are a lot of dogs at the shelter right now, perfectly lovely happy nonaggressive dogs who need families. That thought, although I didn't adopt again right away, was what finally kicked me over the edge. Great dogs are put down for no reason every single day and here I was trying to keep a dog who really honestly belonged in a straitjacket with a drip of thorazine alive and happy. Sometimes even love and care and training and everything else you can give are not enough. Sometimes dogs, like people, have something wrong in their brains and they cannot be fixed. Sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture and sometimes, although it is incredibly hard, you have to give up.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:06 AM on November 7, 2010 [9 favorites]

He also tries to escape through the garage door whenever anyone leaves the house. If we try to push him back in, he will bite. We have solved this by telling him to sit in his bed, and it works fine - I'm just including this so you see how he acts.

My husband has had a similar approach as you, which I call the workaround. Instead of training the behavior out of him (in your case, the garage escapes), you train him to do something else. The end result is that the dog doesn't do the unwanted behavior, but not because he knows it's unwanted; you're just preventing him from doing it. Your dog's behavior will not improve until you teach him what is and is not acceptable. It doesn't sound like you're doing this currently.

On the rare occasion we do, he stays in the (finished) basement with my father, but he cries and whines the ENTIRE time. We had new carpets put in and it took about 3 hours, and he whined almost the entire time. Last time we did this, we put a gate at the bottom of the stairs, my mom brought him down some new water and he tried to bite her while she trying to go back upstairs.

What you're doing, when you put the dog in the basement with your dad to be with him, is in his eyes rewarding the behavior. Dogs can handle time outs. They should be able to learn that they will be ignored for bad behavior. What troubles me about your dog is that he doesn't understand this.

I am certainly not a dog expert, but your dog's behavior sounds pathological to me. Our dog is not nearly that bad, but we've been doing different kinds of training with him for at least a year now under the guidance of a behavioralist, and he's still not where we'd like him to be. If it's possible, rehabilitating this dog will take a) lots of time and consistency and b) an attitude shift about your dog's place in your family and your relationships to him. The attitude shift has been the most difficult piece of the puzzle, and to me it sounds like it will be a significant barrier with your family as well. I can't emphasize this enough. You marked the behavioralist locator as the best answer, and I agree that that's an avenue to try, if and only if you truly commit to your end of the training. The behavioralist cannot fix him; it's going to be through the efforts of your family that he would change. And unless everyone is on board, you're not going to get very far.

If it were me, the first time that dog bit someone and sent them to the ER, he would have been put down.
posted by emkelley at 7:55 AM on November 7, 2010

If your dog bit me, and didn't back off when I snarled back at it, I would immediately do my best to break its neck.

Neither of us would enjoy that much.

It's your dog, and it's a biter. Killing it is your responsibility, not mine.
posted by flabdablet at 9:06 AM on November 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

It concerns me that the only best answer you've chosen in the one (of about 3) that say to call a behavioralist.

Based on how you've described your family's dealing with this so far, I predict: the behavioralist comes over, gives you all a long lesson/session, she leaves, you decide nothing works because 1 or 2 days didn't fix it, and all stays the same.

OR, of course, the behavioralist (if she's worth her salt, IMO) will come, hear your story, take a look, and tell you you have no choice but to put your dog down.

Sometimes doing what's best for a pet IS putting it down - gently, calmly and with love.
posted by tristeza at 9:41 AM on November 7, 2010 [4 favorites]

I don't think #4 is actually an option unless the family lies about the dog's past to a rescue organization.

Callilng PETA may elicit the name of a rescue group that will take the dog. They were the ones that brokered the rescue of the Vick dogs, and I would guess they have contacts with other groups as well.

That being said I, personally, would have the dog put down.
posted by anastasiav at 10:07 AM on November 7, 2010

anastasiav: Callilng PETA may elicit the name of a rescue group that will take the dog. They were the ones that brokered the rescue of the Vick dogs, and I would guess they have contacts with other groups as well."

Here's the timeline of the Vick dog rehabilitators. But they had a lot more options in terms of resources because Vick was required to pay for it. And rehabbing a fight dog might be easier than this dog: dogs used for dogfighting are usually trained to be aggressive to other dogs, not necessarily humans (their trainers need to still be able to handle them). The OP's dog has no such qualms.
posted by nicebookrack at 1:50 PM on November 7, 2010

Ok, I'm a dog lover and all, and I can understand how much someone can care for their pet, but it concerns me as well that the only answer you marked was the one suggesting an animal behaviorist, not any of the ones that's saying it's best to put the dog down. Please consider it seriously! It makes me so angry when people care more about their pets than the safety of people, especially when you don't even know who this dangerous dog will affect. I have small children in my family, and every time I hear about something like this, I wonder if the people are even considering the fact that no matter how lovable their dog might be *most of the time*, if it's ever in one of it's moods, and gets out, it can kill someone, likely someone else's child. You and your family are NOT the only ones who can be affected by this dog, and you risk putting other people unknowingly in danger. You are already doing so much to try to control him, yet he STILL bites and STILL tries to run out. It sounds like a ticking time bomb.
posted by lacedcoffee at 3:38 PM on November 7, 2010 [5 favorites]

I love dogs and it pains me to say it, but you need to put this dog down before something truly tragic happens.

Do not pass the buck by foisting him on a rescue group either.
posted by O9scar at 6:23 PM on November 7, 2010

"The dog was fine... I can't remember when but he just went off the deep end"

To me this signifies one of two things.

One is that the dog has developed some serious physical problems such as a brain tumor or injury that is causing erratic behavior. Is diagnosis then treatment viable and affordable? Act accordingly and without delay.

The other is that the you have 'bitten off more than you can chew' with this particular dag and it has developed behavioral tendencies in the time between when it "was fine" and now. I see several red flags regarding your treatment of situations that I doubt developed ALL OF A SUDDEN. Honestly, the dog did not go from being 100% fine with it's surroundings to a total, vicious creature overnight. There were warning signs that were either missed or ignored.

Questions to think about moving forward in your pet ownership career (if you choose to do so):

1) why was the animal not kennel trained?
2) why were signs missed/ignored?
3) why are you rewarding behavior that you do not want to encourage (father in basement with crying dog)?

I wish you the best, but I fear for the worst.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:34 AM on November 8, 2010

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