I seldom recommend putting a dog down. Obviously this is the ultimate last resort. With that said it is an option that needs to be left on the table. I am going to add emails to this page from people who should put their dogs down along with emails from people who are considering putting their dogs to sleep.
When To Put Your Dog to Sleep
Many people who are thinking about killing their dog have problems that are OWNER PROBLEMS and not DOG PROBLEMS.
I am a police officer in Texas and have 2 home pets that I rely on to keep my family safe when I am not at home. Both are mixed breed dogs (American Bulldog/Blackmouth Kurr). In the past year I have begun to have aggression problems with my 2 boys. Recently one of them bit a friend on the knee that just walked into our house without announcing his presence. He was not familiar with our dog's aggression issues and my dogs had only met him once or twice.
Last night, I was exercising my dogs by having them run around the block following my truck (this is a regular practice they both extremely look forward to) and at the end of the run a neighbors 30 lbs dog ran up to them and began barking. I did not see exactly what happened but my oldest, Shiner, proceeded to tear that little dog up. He had him in a choke hold and was violently shaking him. The small dog had several puncture wounds all over his body but is OK. The younger one, Sonny (son of Shiner) regularly "nips" at adults and children he is not familiar with. He has never broken skin but we fear the worst may happen in the future. My dogs are very obedient with me. I have worked with them more than the normal owner but I fear that my dominant and aggressive training tactics have made my dogs the way they are. My wife and I are terribly torn up about this and about what to do. Our options are to put the dogs down (which we absolutely cannot bring ourselves to do), give the dog away (we are afraid they may become someone else's problem), or to keep them and begin treating them like a loaded weapon. We have opted to keep them because anything else would really be an emotional drain. Please help me with suggestions of what I can do. I have read on your website about the territorial dog. I believe I would like to train them both in protection. What suggestions do you have for me? Train them both....together....separate? Please give us anything that will keep us from having to put our dogs to sleep.
This is 110% an owner problem not a dog problem. This happens because of the way you have chosen to live with these dogs. These are dominant dogs and you may be a pack leader but you have not practiced good leadership skills.
To take these dogs outside and run them like you do is like BEGGING FOR A PROBLEM. Your dogs are not well enough trainer to do this. If they were you could call them away from another dog that is challenging them. Pack leaders say when pack members fight.
These dogs should have two dog crates in the house. If you cannot send them to their dog crate when someone rings your dog bell or knocks on your door then your dogs are not trained. The same goes for your wife. If she cant do this then the dog does not respect her position in the family pack.
I would NEVER allow these dogs to be out of my eye site - not ever. They should either be on line or they should be wearing a electric collar. (I produced a dog training DVD that teaches people how to train with electric collars - Remote Collar Training for the Pet Owner )
I suggest you start to educate yourself. I have a tremendous amount of information on my web site about dominant - aggressive dogs - every page on my web site has a menu bar on the left. There is a link to a directory of information on the menu bar.
Killing dogs is easy, training them is work. If you train these dogs you will be able to safely live with them.
I have a question and hopefully you can help before its too late. Last night my family's Bull Mastiff attacked my Aunt. She came over to visit and was over for about an hour before the attack happened. The dog was fine until my Aunt walked over to my mother, who was preparing the dog's dinner. He attacked her immediately and did not stop until he tore a tendon in her arm. This has been the second attack in a week. The first occurred when my sister walked behind him as he was sleeping. He jumped up and bit her on the back. Everyone in the family has been bitten by the dog at least once, but last night was the most severe. He is a 19 month old male bull mastiff that has not been neutered. My father has said that he will put the dog asleep today, but I know this will be very hard for everyone. So my question to you is can this dog be saved? Will neutering and obedience training help, or should he be put down? Any information would be appreciated. Thank you.
Should I put my dog to sleep
Dear Mr. Frawley,
We have a 2 year old Wheaton Terrier (3/4 Wheaton and ¼ Sheltie) named Rosie that has been a car chaser, constant barker, and seems to be very aggressive. I’ve read at least a hundred of your answers tonight and still confused (probably emotional). Maybe aggressive is not the right term, maybe it is prey hunter, I don’t know. She is kennel trained. We also have two cats that we had before the dog. One of the cats was abused as a kitten and is very afraid of everyone but my wife and four kids (all under 9 years old). The dog seems to hate that cat and has attacked it many times, although only plays with the other cat who seems very tolerant of her. She gets along with the kids, but we also have many other kids in our neighborhood and she has jumped on some of them, and runs aggressively to the door when some of them come to the house. She has to stay in her kennel when ever most of the neighbor kids are around.
Lately, Rosie has attacked (viciously) the first cat two times in the past 10 days and has had to spend more time in her kennel because of it. Tonight she viciously attacked the other cat for the first time. My wife got in the middle of it and we could not get Rosie to let go, until I smacked her in the head. In the end there was blood (my wife’s) and tears everywhere. We no longer trust her to be around the kids although she has never done anything to them. We fear that she may attack a neighbor kid.
Rosie is a beloved part of our family and the kids are distraught over this. She has not been well trained and that is our fault. However, at this point I don’t see how we could give her to another family with her past behavior. Should we put her to sleep?
Thank you for your help!
Ed's answer on putting dog to sleep
You are correct – this is an owner problem not a dog problem. If you are willing to make some changes in how you live with this dog you can easily fix this problem. If not then it’s your decision to kill this dog – please don’t use the term “put to sleep ” because that’s not what this would be.
I wrote an article on how to introduce dogs into homes with cats. You are beyond that with this dog but it will give you some insight on what happened.
Your dog is a dominant dog. I have a great deal of information on dealing with dominant dogs on my web site. Here is where to start.
If this were my dog I would start by using a dog crate. I would do the work explained in my article GROUNDWORK to Becoming Your Dogs Pack Leader. The dog would ALWAYS be tethered when in the house. It would stay that way until I had the dog trained.
I would finish this work with a remote collar – when the dog was finished with basic training it would always have a remote collar on. Here is a DVD that explains how to train with it http://leerburg.com/318.htm