Between a rock and a hard place - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 97 (permalink) Old 02-23-2014, 04:11 PM Thread Starter
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Between a rock and a hard place

Rescued a very expensive 21 month old working line male about 2 months ago now. He belonged to a family member, he was being borderline abused and ended up nipping someone. He was then abandoned at a random location. We went to look for him, put up fliers and 1 week later found him

He came into our home with no issues, he had met us maybe 5-10 times total, but not for long periods of time. In the process of trying to find him a home, we took him to a rescue to be evaluated and he was labeled as fear aggressive and rejected.

Trying to find a local home on our own, with a slow transition in mind, he has nipped and bit 2 people upon the first meet, we suspect the candidates moved too fast with petting and interaction, but we are not professionals so do not know exactly the reason behind his actions.

Its at the point now where we cannot find him a home, and he cannot stay with us since we have a GSD, Doberman, and a baby on the way.

I fear we will have to do the worst. I never expected to have this issue, it sucks that my wife and I tried to do the right thing and now are ending up with probably the hardest decision we have had to make in a very long time.
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post #2 of 97 (permalink) Old 02-23-2014, 04:13 PM
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Do you know who the breeder is? Have they been contacted and told the situation?
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post #3 of 97 (permalink) Old 02-23-2014, 04:38 PM Thread Starter
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I tried to contact the breeder multiple times just to get his pedigree, left messages with no call back
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post #4 of 97 (permalink) Old 02-23-2014, 05:04 PM
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Get a top quality, well fitting muzzle.

Keep it on him at all times if there is an occasion where a bite may be possible.

Get many helpers as you can possibly find, of as many and as differing appearance as you can possibly muster.

Have your helpers come around and start from completely ignoring him to gradually working up to as much interaction as possible without causing a reaction.

Very slightly increase the interaction with each positive reaction you get from him, pull back slightly with each negative reaction. Reward positive reaction, and ignore poor reaction.

As with any training, keep a log of all that you do and the results including a tally of positive and negative reactions and clear definition of steps.

You should have a clear picture of where you are and where you need to go in a fairly short time.

ONLY remove the muzzle when you are completely sure of his reactions.

This should take care of your problems.

"I'd better go with you Huck, civilization can be dangerous."-------Tom Sawyer(Mark Twain)
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post #5 of 97 (permalink) Old 02-23-2014, 05:13 PM
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Wow that is a hard place to be in.. For both of you...

Have you contacted any other near by (as in hours away) rescues? Man, that is so sad the rescue turned the dog down.

If it's fear aggression, your going to have to find someone who is willing to put a lot of commitment and time in, otherwise it won't last. They have to go slow, make sure with any new meetings with people they are just there to check him out in his environment and they are not to proceed in his space, which includes eye contact. Second meeting do some counter conditioning with the new people. Best resource for me for this with my fear aggressive dog to strangers is, "The Cautious Canine-How to Help Dogs Conquer Their Fears" by Patricia McConnell. It may take a few days of hours of work with the new people before he can even stand them touching him, but it works if you stick to it and go at his pace.
Sounds like he has a low threshold for strangers, and that he is not being managed well on top of that, which is a welcoming for the nippy/biting. (not that it's your fault! Sounds like you are doing your absolute best!) But ensuring he doesn't bite any more people is really important for him.

He is still so young.. So sad. I really hope you can find someone for him or a rescue that will take him despite his fear aggression. Poor guy!

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post #6 of 97 (permalink) Old 02-23-2014, 05:35 PM
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21 months old is not the age he cannot be retrained. He doesn't trust people, that is the fact. Do not invite any kind of visitors, as those who do not know dogs, probably, have approached him at the front and raised a hand over his head - that is a sign of human agressiveness in a doggy language. Strangers and presence of other dogs increase his frustration, and his self-protectiveness with bites is quite understandable.
First of all - don't try to exercise your own dominance over him, let him to relax. Speak in a low gentle voice and avoid high pithed tunes. It simply takes time for him to come back to his senses, and don't be so quick to call him "fear agressive" because, most likely, he expects any moment to receive pain instead of treats every time he sees a human. If there are any visitors - ask them to take a sit, let him to approach them only if he wants, and feed him something tasty, not to pet him. It could have been nothing but this "petting" that triggered the trouble. Not every human realises, that some dogs are scared of being petted.
You should look for resque groups who would agree to take him on, he has good chances, because he is young. Meanwhile, I'd suggest you to muzzle him in a soft adjustable leather muzzle, thus providing maximum freedom for both, yourself and him on your walks. If he is not trained to wear a muzzle, put it on just before going out, and take it off when you are out. He should allow keeping it on for longer first, and all the time in couple of weeks.

Last edited by David Taggart; 02-23-2014 at 05:40 PM.
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post #7 of 97 (permalink) Old 02-23-2014, 05:56 PM
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OP, this might not be the most popular opinion you'll get on this thread, but I believe that euthanizing him wouldn't be "the worst".

He is lucky that he had you in his corner, doing the right thing for him. Not every dog in his situation has that. Sometimes doing the right thing means accepting the reality of the situation and the reality is that he is a very difficult dog to find a responsible home for. Sometimes, despite the very best efforts, a dog just can't find the right home.

The worst end for him, in my mind, would be for him to get shuffled around from one home to another, with each one getting worse and worse in terms of his quality of life.

You could invest in some training with a professional, and work with him on his issues, if you haven't already. The down side is that you could be looking at a long and perhaps expensive effort that still finds him with you after the birth of your baby. The upside is that you may be able to get him to the point where he doesn't nip and bite the people who come to look at him.

Sometimes the most humane, responsible thing we can do is give them a calm, compassionate death. It is never an easy choice, but sometimes it is the right choice.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
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post #8 of 97 (permalink) Old 02-23-2014, 06:27 PM
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I have to agree with Sheilah about that point. I do not feel that euthanasia is the worst thing either. But it could be because we had a similar situation and ultimately had to consider the welfare of all the animals involved in it.

A friend of ours, which we had told her it was not a good idea, decided to adopt a deaf and partly blind border collie/aussie cross. Double merle, high white. Sweet boy with a nice personality. If you were always with him or he had another dog around to keep him assured that everything was okay. And this meant he had to be able to physically be next to the dog in the same space, be it outside or in a crate.

My golden grew up with him as his best friend. My roommate's aussie not only put up with him following him and nipping, running into him while we were out and about, but kept an eye on him so that we didn't lose him. We tried time and time again to find him a home, because it was very hard to arrange our lives if we couldn't take him somewhere, and a dog always had to be left with him, so someone was left out if we couldn't take Murdock somewhere.

He kept coming back when we would try to rehome him. If left alone, he would bark and carry on all day. He would break out of crates to the point of hurting himself. He wasn't always good with other dogs, not because he was malicious but because he couldn't hear them saying that it hurt. It was a cause for a lot of headaches and a few vet trips from him inadvertently hurting another dog.

After the last time we found a home that worked for him for a month, things just got truly bad. He was getting so pushy with the other dogs he had to wear a basket muzzle to keep him from hurting the aussie. Which lead him to hit the dog with such force you could literally hear the air come rushing out of his lungs. He kept biting the 15 year old shortador's hind legs, which was something that caused a lot of fear for the old man if he had to go outside. And my golden, who would love to play with him, was actually trying to avoid him.

When it was decided that my roommate would be keeping a dog that was a co-own with a friend, a young puppy who was still developing, and really no other hope in sight for a home for him, we finally made the choice to have him euthanized.

It was not easy. It was a very long time coming. And I know it haunts my roommate still that we had to do it, but for Murdock it was the best thing. He had such bad anxiety about being alone, he couldn't really communicate well, people always thought of how wonderful it would be to have a special needs dog, but no one ever stepped up once our friend couldn't keep him around. We knew we would end up with him. Neither of us were happy about the situation as a whole.

Fear aggression is not an easy road. It's a long one and a very involved one with a lot of triumphs and pitfalls. While I definitely can understand not wanting to euthanize an otherwise young and healthy dog, if you cannot find him a safe place or find a way to keep things safe with your child on the way and all the other dogs in the house, it is a far less cruel thing to have him with people who care at his side, then alone and likely more scared in a situation that could lead to all sorts of bad things.
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post #9 of 97 (permalink) Old 02-23-2014, 06:35 PM
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My rescue works with a women who is not only a trainer, she rescues and she usually ends up with the most crazy cases and yes they stay with her forver, she is really really good. I know that Some rescues can not take on fear agro dogs but if you network there is always going to be someone who knows someone who an help or has the right resources to point you in the proper direction.

I have stayed for socialization classes with my trainer before, in the social class we have a super big terrified rotti that will bite anyone, we are careful not to overwhelm him but during the last bit of the class people will approach him (not head on) but to the side and call him over, he comes and he gets a pat then we all move on bc that is as far as he needs to go, 1 step at a time for that big boy!

Maybe taking an approach like that will help him do better until you figure his path out?
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post #10 of 97 (permalink) Old 02-23-2014, 06:40 PM
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1000% what sit,stay said!!
there are much worse fates than being death for a dog.
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