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I have a 4 year old GSD that has had aggression towards people since four months old and severe dog aggression since a year or so. I have been to several trainers but he still requires a ton of management to keep him from going after a person or dog. I am now considering euthanizing him due to the stress of managing him. I guess i just feel like i am doing it out of selfish reasons as i for the most part can keep him from hurting someone it is just very stressful and i worry that if i slip up someone gets hurt. I have to work to avoid strangers and dogs when we are out. If they ignore him he'll ignore them but if a dog or person looks like they plan to approach us he explodes and no amount of corrections or desensitization has gotten rid of this behavior. I feel like we've finally hit a wall and this is just as good as he is capable of behaving with his weak nerves. He is also not able to be loose in the house due to my fear that he will bite someone as he will charge the door and bark/growl whenever someone enters even if he knows them and he is often confined to a room or his crate.

At what point is it acceptable to euthanize an aggressive dog that is otherwise physically healthy? He doesn't have a bite record but that is almost solely due to management.
 

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I am sorry you are dealing with this. I have been there with a rescue.

If you have exhausted breed knowledgeable trainers, and you have done full medical check, yes sometimes hard decisions need to be made.

What did the trainers say?

I would not feel comfortable steering you via a forum post. So to answer your questions the criteria, IMO, for having to PTS is:
-Experienced breed trainers tell you it is an option to consider
-All medical tests done
-You live in fear of making a mistake in the management theory and it puts you and others at true risk

Again, sorry. I know what it is like :(
 

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It would help to know how long you worked with trainers, what did you try and for how long?

Also, what did the trainers say about the dog, prognosis?

Were the trainers able to handle him, and if so how long did it take for them to be able to handle him? What happens when you take him to the vet?

Regardless of any of the above and regardless too of whether he is legitimately dangerous, is he happy? Does he have much quality of life? Sounds like yours is being impacted by owning him.
 

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Living with an aggressive dog is very hard. Sometimes you have only 2 choices.
1. Isolate the dog and let them live out their lives (this is what we did but we are in the country and she liked kids so it wasn't terrible)
2. Release them from their demons.

Have you tried muzzle training him? Can you isolate him from society?
 

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I have a 4 year old GSD that has had aggression towards people since four months old and severe dog aggression since a year or so. I have been to several trainers but he still requires a ton of management to keep him from going after a person or dog. I am now considering euthanizing him due to the stress of managing him. I guess i just feel like i am doing it out of selfish reasons as i for the most part can keep him from hurting someone it is just very stressful and i worry that if i slip up someone gets hurt. I have to work to avoid strangers and dogs when we are out. If they ignore him he'll ignore them but if a dog or person looks like they plan to approach us he explodes and no amount of corrections or desensitization has gotten rid of this behavior. I feel like we've finally hit a wall and this is just as good as he is capable of behaving with his weak nerves. He is also not able to be loose in the house due to my fear that he will bite someone as he will charge the door and bark/growl whenever someone enters even if he knows them and he is often confined to a room or his crate.

At what point is it acceptable to euthanize an aggressive dog that is otherwise physically healthy? He doesn't have a bite record but that is almost solely due to management.
Where you located?
 

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OP, I am very sorry you are having these issues with Banner. I was wondering, though, why you didn't post about your problems sooner. You have posted some very nice pictures of your beautiful dog. Last posts were in 2015, when Banner was 10 months old. You never indicated there was a problem. Over the past 4 years, you could have been sharing the training you have done, the issues he has, and the remedies you have tried. We may have been in a better position to offer advice if you had shared your struggles with us.

We don't have enough information to form any kind of opinion. Besides, we are strangers on the internet. You need someone hands on to evaluate your dog. We are talking about the dogs' life. The price is too high for us to make guesses.
 

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Have you read:

The Midnight Dog Walkers: Positive Training and Practical Advice for Living With Reactive and Aggressive Dogs by Annie Phenix?

She's a professional trainer that works with aggressive dogs. I think you would benefit from reading the book, she lived what you are currently going through.

Here's her site:

What We Do - Phenix Dogs Training
 
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Sometimes certain dogs find themselves in environments where they are not suitable, and it becomes difficult. About 2 summers ago I got a beautiful working adult GSD out of old working lines ( Busecker Schloss, Sthollhammer, Furmanschoff Haus Himpel and Bungalow ) from a prison officer , and for free; even though the dog had a bite history, I thought I got a deal. The dog was very high drive with Zero off switch. The officer told me that the dog could be easily managed by hand feeding him. He said if I hand feed him , the dog would associate me with a resource ( food ) and the dog is more likely to protect me. What the officer said turned out to be true, but hand feeding that dog was a night mare . The dog would literally fight me for the food and give me very little room for doing it carefully, and in a few days he was winning. Upon advise of my trainer I returned the dog, as he said that dog was setting me up for bite. I returned the dog to the original breeder, who was bit a few days after taking him in. The wife of the breeder refused to have " their baby " put down, and he is now living out his life on a farm in NJ.
 

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We get a pet with expectations of sharing our lives with a canine companion. We provide them with love, vetting, food, grooming, and cleaning up after them. They provide us with health benefits: lower blood pressure, increase in exercise, increased endorphins, decrease in depression, improved mental/emotional health, and they provide us with proud moments, and enjoyment. For this to happen, we provide training and leadership, and the dog complies with training and leadership.

The vast majority of dogs are perfectly happy to enjoy our leftover space, leftover time, leftover food, and are content with whatever we give them, and are happy to follow our lead.

They are animals.

Sometimes a domestic animal is not wired right and is not safe around people. Keeping them as a pet is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Rehoming them shouldn't be a consideration. Instead of lowering our blood pressure, they make us hyper-vigilent. Instead of increasing our social interactions, they have us out walking them at 2am when we are unlikely to see people. Instead of improving our health, they increase our stress.

In the past such an animal would be shot and buried without too much concern. Dogs were viewed differently and if a dog was not compatible with human life, they would be eliminated. Now people want to save every dog, and we are going to have more and more of such dogs because some of them will breed before they are altered or killed. My guess is that this instability will be passed on.

Yes, you will feel guilty if you do not try everything. Even then, you will probably question what you might have done or might not have done with respect to the dog. Even then you will feel guilty. Should you feel guilty? No. If the dog cannot manage in the human world, then it has an unmanageable flaw, and the thing to do is to "release him from his demons."

The good news is that you do not have to shoot your dog. The drugs the vet will give your dog will anesthetize him, and then they will shut him down. Generally, it is not traumatic for the dog. Generally.

If you did not sign up for a bad dog, and you have done your part in training and managing and leading him. Then put the dog down. It is sad.

I am sorry you are having this problem. Having a pet is not supposed to be like that.
 

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The German Shepherd standard calls for a breed that can naturally protect and guard. They do this with various degrees of aggression. That is what is called a "good" German Shepherd, not a dog that is bad or wired wrong. This is one of the traits that has kept the GSD in second place for popularity for many, many years. When you get a German Shepherd, it is one of the traits that you sign up for if the dog has been properly bred.

It is very common for people who own this breed to have to crate or lock them up in another room when they have guests. If you can't walk your dog around people or dogs, then just find somewhere that you can go to minimize such encounters such as industrial parks on weekends or off hours, behind strip malls, isolated trails, along rivers, along railroad tracks, isolated country roads, etc.

You have a very nice looking dog. I have to wonder whether your choice of breeders was well thought out and you got what paid for or whether you got lucky with a backyard breeder. Regardless, as someone else already mentioned, there are homes for dogs like this that can and will utilize his natural talents. If you no longer want the responsibility of owning a German Shepherd, then find one of these homes. They are out there. For your dog's sake, I hope you do right by him.
 

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Where are you located? There are trainers who can help.

I have found that a solid recall, heel, and down can save your dog's life. Literally.

I put some of my dogs out in the yard when I have visitors. It's not a big deal for me.

I don't see aggression as a "demon" unless the dog is chronically nervous and unhappy. The dog is not possessed or mentally unstable just because he acts aggressive to strangers and other dogs.

I would have real issues if the dog was aggressive to the family he lives with. If he is only aggressive to strangers, it's not super difficult to manage.

I'd exhaust all other options before euthanasia. But I consider any dog or puppy I adopt or buy to be a lifelong commitment, and I am willing to adjust my lifestyle for a dog- to a degree others might not. Not judging those that don't want to make that commitment, but some awareness of the breed traits is important and GSD are protective, "aggressive" and often reactive. It's not a bad thing, you have to look at the whole package when it come to judging a dog, but it does require a lot more of the owner than, say, a golden retriever.

I don't want to turn off the OP, or sound like I'm judging, but I do think a really experienced trainer could be a lifeline for this dog. There are some great trainers out there and some horrible ones, the forum can help find you a good one.
 

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To add- nosework and tracking are awesome outlets for a dog who isn't comfortable with strangers or strange dogs.

It gives them a ton of confidence and lets the owner have fun working the dog's strengths.

I'm not talking competitive or SAR level stuff, just have fun with finding objects (detection dog), tracking/trailing, etc. You will enjoy it, and so will the dog.
 

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Please try to find another home for him. If he has not already bitten someone then he doesn’t have a bite history. I would first try contacting a local IPO club, and visit them in person. Talk to someone with aggression experience, explain the situation and see if they know of anyone who might be able to handle the dog and want a dog with high aggression. There are people out there.

Managing a dog is very stressful and not for everyone. I had a rescue who needed management and it was challenging, but he was also good with some people, which made it easier than your situation.
 

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If you can't walk your dog around people or dogs, then just find somewhere that you can go to minimize such encounters such as industrial parks on weekends or off hours, behind strip malls, isolated trails, along rivers, along railroad tracks, isolated country roads, etc.
That advice is the reason why our forest trails, river beaches, rain or shine, are no longer safe because people take their aggressive dogs, adopted out by a local no-kill shelter, to these areas. But guess what? People with well trained dogs also like to walk there but now avoid it.
It doesn't matter if a dog is good looking or ugly as a bat. This should not be a consideration for who lives and who dies.
I have had to put down a GSD decades ago because of high liability and high stress levels. He had bitten a child on the head, resulting in a good scrape. After that he became predatory to small children, besides ours. Now I know better, I do better. He is the very reason I became a trainer for pet dogs. Looking back, yes, maybe I could have saved him by keeping him locked up (in a home with young children?!) and run myself ragged as a mother. I know this is not an excuse but it was the situation back then. There were no doggy shrinks yet and all trainers told me that he was a loaded gun.
I like Selzer's advice; it is raw but honest.
OP, you make the decision that is best for you and in your situation and don't look back. He seems a high liability and safety risk and you cannot put that onto someone else, no matter how remote they walk. At one point everyone encounters other people who will be at risk. Sometimes you should ask yourself, what your life was like before this problem. We tend to get desensitized under stress and do not realize how much sanity we have sacrificed already.
Keep us updated. I know this is very tough.
 

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That advice is the reason why our forest trails, river beaches, rain or shine, are no longer safe because people take their aggressive dogs, adopted out by a local no-kill shelter, to these areas. But guess what? People with well trained dogs also like to walk there but now avoid it.
It doesn't matter if a dog is good looking or ugly as a bat. This should not be a consideration for who lives and who dies.
I have had to put down a GSD decades ago because of high liability and high stress levels. He had bitten a child on the head, resulting in a good scrape. After that he became predatory to small children, besides ours. Now I know better, I do better. He is the very reason I became a trainer for pet dogs. Looking back, yes, maybe I could have saved him by keeping him locked up (in a home with young children?!) and run myself ragged as a mother. I know this is not an excuse but it was the situation back then. There were no doggy shrinks yet and all trainers told me that he was a loaded gun.
I like Selzer's advice; it is raw but honest.
OP, you make the decision that is best for you and in your situation and don't look back. He seems a high liability and safety risk and you cannot put that onto someone else, no matter how remote they walk. At one point everyone encounters other people who will be at risk. Sometimes you should ask yourself, what your life was like before this problem. We tend to get desensitized under stress and do not realize how much sanity we have sacrificed already.
Keep us updated. I know this is very tough.
Who is talking about shelter dogs or breeds bred to be inappropriately aggressive which fill our shelter systems? Please don't confuse those breeds with ours, apples and oranges.

It absolutely can matter what a dog looks like as the phenotype of the dog can hold clues as to the dog's history and genetic makeup when such information is not provided or needing to ask for it.

I am talking about a German Shepherd that as per the owner can be walked among people and dogs and only has issues when it feels it might be challenged. I never said let the dog off leash in isolated areas. I said take the dog there and walk him. If you feel threatened, unsafe or intimidated by a leashed dog then your fears aren't the result of a dog's presence.

Entertaining the thought of euthanizing a dog for being bred to the standard is no more acceptable than presenting non representative dogs as typical specimens of the breed. That only results in more people in over their heads. It is dishonest and misleading.
 

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If the dog has a solid recall, downs at distance, heels on command, and is kept on leash or in sight at all times, he is not a liability.

Another dog can rush you, sure, but there are ways to fairly easily fend off a loose dog. If your dog is under control, it is unlikely that there will be issues if the owner is proactive.

I'm on board with euthanizing if the dog is unpredictable and aggressive to his own family. I am not if the dog is simply stranger or other dog aggressive. In this case, the dog might be putting on a big show, and has learned that it works. It may not make a ton of difference in terms of training, but he may not be truly dog-human aggressive- as in eager to go forward and actually pick a fight. Often, a dog like this will go into avoidance fairly easily, and it's pretty easy to transition this dog from avoidance to indifference (aloof).

Almost always, a dog like that can be managed and trained for life in a way that will give the dog quality of life while keeping others safe.
 
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