Registered: 1519096829 Posts: 6
have a 6 year old Australian cattle dog, her name is Tegan. Over the past few years her dog and people aggression has escalated. She didn’t show any signs of aggression until about 3 years old. I did my best to handle her issues but she just continues to get worse. I have reached out to a cattle dog rescue and taken her to a vet. She is completely healthy. The vet recommended either a behavioral specialist or euthanasia. She is aggressive to all animals and people. I have had her since a puppy so I know she was not abused. She was socialized and lived with another ACD (her father) for the first 3.5 years of her life. For 1.5 years she was the only dog in my home. I entered a new relationship last year and my boyfriend has a 13 year old mutt. She is the sweetest dog towards all people and animals but my ACD continually attacks her. The attacks have gotten worse over time, we had hoped that she would get used to the other dog but that is not the case. When she attacks, she goes after our other dogs eyes or neck. Luckily our other dog has thick fur on her neck but she has multiple scars on her face from my ACD. She is possessive over everything: food, toys, us and her crate. I fear she will seriously hurt our older dog. I cannot take her around any other dogs, no matter the location. Whether it be in our home, friends or families homes or even in public. There is a numbered amount of people that she likes, however her aggressive behavior is unpredictable and she doesn’t give much warning. She is great with me and my boyfriend, we don’t fear her but I cannot trust her with other dogs, people or children. She has bitten people and was quarantined once because of it. Her unpredictability makes exercising her difficult as many people do not obey the leash laws in my town. She has to be crated during the day because she will attack our other dog when we aren’t home. Currently, we have the other dog living at my mothers house because it has gotten so bad, but we would like to bring our older dog home. My mother is 3.5 hours away (by car). My dog is putting a big strain on my relationships and my life. I cannot leave her with anyone because I fear what she will do and don’t trust her or trust anyone to understand the severity of her aggression. I have considered rehoming but I worry that she will not be placed in a home that will be suited for her needs. I fear that someone who is willing to take an aggressive dog will either abuse her or won’t understand the severity and she will attack someone or another animal under someone else’s care. I also do not want to be liable if she seriously hurts or kills another dog, animal or a child or person. My current financial status doesn’t allow me the ability to afford a regular trainer or to see a behavioral specialist. The only two in driving distance are 3+ hours away and just the initial visit cost $500+. It is deeply upsetting as I do not want to rehome her or put her down but she is just getting worse. I have to have her separated in another room away from the other dogs when we visit family. I asked our vet about drugs but he said they would only make her aggression worse since she is not acting out of fear or anxiety. I am at my wits end. She is a good dog when it’s just her. She listens, loves affection and to play. She also is a “Velcro dog”, she has to be next to me at all times. I have a deep attachment to her and the last thing I want to do is get rid of my dog but I just do not know what to do. We live in an area with a lot of houses around us but the property is not ideal for a fence, nor can we afford a fence, so we put her on a trolly when she goes outside. Her pray/chase drive is so high that she can’t be let off lead, plus there are so many dogs and children in the neighborhood that I fear something will happen if she is not on the trolly. It is very stressful living with her because I am basically waiting for her to severely hurt or kill our other dog or attack a person and we will be forced to have her put down. I have considered rehoming but have no faith and worry that she’ll get dumped at a shelter or seriously hurt another animal or person. I feel like I have already lost her. I can’t look at her with out crying. I cry all the time since the vet visit last month. I feel so guilty for even considering euthanasia. Neither of my parents are supportive of that decision. But I am living in constant fear and she doesn’t have much quality of life. She is always confined or kept in the house. There is little I can to to exercise her and she is so high energy. I know she is unhappy and frustrated because of her other bad behaviors. She now ignores my commands when we are outside if she isn’t on a leash (but she is on her trolley, she can’t be trusted to have no form of tether or confinement). I try to talk to my boyfriend about our options which are few as we are both young and have many expenses. We are trying to get our businesses off the ground and hope to build a home. We have taken the thought of having children off the table because we know she cannot be around kids. The vet even said to us if we had kids he would 100% recommend euthanasia as rehabilitating her is going to be difficult and she will never be a normal pet. I don’t know what I am looking for. Confirmation that I am not a horrible pet owner? I don’t think I could live with myself if she hurt a child. And I fear something will happen and we will lose everything we have and then some in a law suit.
Registered: 1517499255 Posts: 60
You are not a horrible pet owner. Not at all. Your torment is understandable. You want the best for your dog but you know that she might hurt another animal or another person again. The only thing I can think of to suggest (and maybe you've already considered this) is to contact a breed-specific group, that is, one that takes only Australian cattle dogs. Where I live in the United States, the breed rescues seem very serious about making sure that animals are rehomed only to totally appropriate families. Good luck.
Registered: 1519096829 Posts: 6
Thank you for understanding my situation. Unfortunately the largest and only Australian cattle dog rescue group I can find in the US has turned us down. I live in NH and they even have fosters in NH. But they said since she has bitten people and dogs that she is too high of a risk. She is a liability and they cannot take her. Their recommendations were have a full vet check up, Prozac or euthanasia. I knew she was healthy but I made an appointment with our vet to discuss Prozac and have more tests done. All tests came back normal. My vet said she is not a candidate for anti anxiety drugs since she is not acting out of fear or anxiety. He said that these drugs remove the fear the dogs have and in doing so with her that would be dangerous and could possibly result in her attacking me.
Returning her to the so called breeder I got her from isn’t an option either. Not to get too personal but I got her because my ex boyfriend bred his dog with another cattle dog in the town we were living in at the time. Actually my home town. My dogs mom is a farm dog. The litter was 8 puppies, 6 females and 2 males. 3 of the puppies didn’t sell so the farmer who owns the mother dog kept them. But he didn’t have any of the puppies fixed. Which resulted in more litters of puppies but these are inbred. My dog is fixed but clearly this farmer doesn’t understand how to properly care for his dogs. He also has made some frightening statements so I do not feel comfortable giving her to him. I also cannot give her to my ex as I believe he is an irresponsible pet owner. He still hasn’t fixed his dog, my dogs father. Even though he has no intentions of breeding him again. He also doesn’t believe in leashes or keeping an eye on the dog while he is outside which has resulted in him taking off more times than I can count. It got so bad that the dog officer in one town that he lived in wanted to take the dog and rehome him. I worry that by sending my dog to my ex that he is too irresponsible and would put her in a situation where she would hurt or kill another dog or worse a child. She used to be really great with kids but it has been so long since she has been around any that now I am afraid and don’t let her around any. I know I have made the situation with her worse by isolating her but she was properly socialized. I don’t know what happened but around 3.5 years old she changed and her aggression came out in full force. I’ve had to move multiples times because I refused to get rid of her. Until September 2017 I had been living in a little apartment above a garage, it was in a private area and had lots of space for her. I had some issues there caused by my landlords So I had to move. But while we lived there she did chase my landlords multiple times, tried to go after their dog (luckily he is tiny and the landlord was holding him) and she even bit one of my landlords hand one time.
Years ago when I was living with my ex, his father took the dogs for a walk one morning, with out leashes. She bit a man on the hand at the beach. She was quarantined but deemed that she was safe to be returned to us as long as she was always confined or leashes. Thankfully she didn’t bite the man very hard and he didn’t press charges. But I am constantly living in fear that she’ll really hurt someone.
I rarely have friends over to our house since she doesn’t like most people and if there is a man visiting she constantly barks and growls. She is always crated when we aren’t home or when there are guests but she has now broken two crates. One was not suitable for her as it has mesh sides and a zipper door. The other was a hard plastic crate and a metal wire door. She threw herself repeatedly against it so the door warped and no longer could close. We ended up getting another like the second but the door on this one is starting to warp from her. I have to be very sure that the door locks. I wish I could afford a trainer and to see a behavioral specialist. I just cannot at this time. I would hate to put her down because I feel so guilty and just keep thinking well what if. I have read of a lot of people keeping aggressive dogs and managing them but it’s just so stressful. I have been doing this for 3 years, I can’t imagine doing it for her whole life. It’s alrwady taking a toll on me. Whenever she has to go to the vet she is muzzled. She wears a harness and a collar when she is outside because she can slip out of either but for some reason when she has both and they are clipped together she hasn’t figured out how to slip out of both. I just don’t want to live with regret or think what if.
Registered: 1158205770 Posts: 839
I am so sorry for what you are going through with Tegan. There are many of us here that have had to make the decision you are facing. Years ago I was in your situation. My daughter and I came home to find my grandmother with her hands bleeding and going into shock. Our gentle, loving dog had attacked her with absolutely no provocation. After having my grandmother treated for her wounds I called our vet. He examined the dog and said she was in perfect physical health but that he was afraid there was something going on emotionally or mentally. He thought it likely she could do it again and with a seven year old daughter and my elderly grandmother I decided I could not take that chance. There was no question of rehoming her.
You are absolutely not a horrible pet owner! You have done everything you can to control Regan. That she has become an escape artist and attacked and bitten many many times I would be terrified to allow it to continue. The next time could be fatal. Yours is not a safe situation. She could be absolutely miserable from what is going on. People suffer emotional and mental anguish for their actions, I think animals could too. I know how it hurts you, loving her as you do but please think of the regret you would have if you can't control her and she seriously injures (or worse) someone.
Registered: 1519096829 Posts: 6
Thank you both for your kind and understanding words. It is so difficult. Just the other day I reached out to a some what local rescue that claims they specialize inaggressive dogs but they turned me down as well and told me to consider drugs even after I told them my vet said absolutely not. I am definitely in a hard place.
I cannot return her to the “breeder”. So that option is also out. The owners of her mother ended up keeping 3 puppies and never got them fixed. So that resulted in many many inbred litters. They are farmers, not actual cattle dog breeders. My ex owns her father and I will not give him to her as I feel he is a very irresponsible dog owner. No matter how much he loves his dog, I just don’t feel he is responsible. He refuses to get his dog fixed even though he has no intentions of breeding him again. He also doesn’t believe in leashes and his dog takes off all the time, the main reason being that he isn’t fixed. I know he wouldn’t be responsible and would put tegan in a dangerous situation. It’s basically a death sentence in itself.
I know she isn’t happy since she isn’t getting the exercise and stimulation she needs. She doesn’t have the room she needs either. I know this is partially my fault but my fear taking her on walks or hikes is just so high now. Everything is stressful and my anxiety Just makes the situation worse. She is just all around difficult. She fights us when we cut her nails, which she has to be muzzled during that since she bit my boyfriend when he tried to cut her nails without a muzzle. It’s a wrestling match to give her a bath. I do think she has something genetically wrong. I know that two of her sisters which were in the same litter have pretty serious aggression issues. One is very dog aggressive. The other showed aggression at a very young age, I’m talking around 6 months but the woman who owned her was able to afford a regular trainer and behavioral specialist but I do not know what came out of that. I wish I could do more but I am so afraid of the worst case scenario happening. She gives no warning signs and will charge clear across a room or the yard to attack our other dog. It’s just so difficult because with just her she is so sweet.
Registered: 1521645225 Posts: 2
Just checking in to see how you’re doing? You’re not alone with this type of experience trying to determine if the gut-wrenching decision is the right one. Yesterday we euthanized our 3 year old dog who we had since 8 weeks old due to worsening aggression and she was even more manageable then it seems your dog had been. You are amazing for having managed as long as you have, and whatever decision you make will be the right one because you love your dog and your decisions don’t change that.
Registered: 1520705886 Posts: 1
Hope you are doing well. I'd love to discuss your issue if you have time.
Registered: 1519096829 Posts: 6
I am so sorry to hear you had to make this difficult choice. I know how hard it is and the stigma from friends and family can make making that decision even harder. If you’d like to talk about your dog I am all ears.
I haven’t made a choice. I go back an forth. I have days where I think I’ll just muzzle her all the time and make it work and we can manage her for a few more years until we build our home on more land so she has more room. I know she is suffering though. I really think she’s starting to go insane. Keeping her couped up isn’t helping. She wants to run and needs to release her energy. She acts out of frustration. I try to do my best with her but my anxiety gets the best of me and our neighbors are not friendly at all. I feel like the black sheep in the neighborhood and I know walking her on these small single car wide dirt roads with her wearing a muzzle is going to make matters worse. Never mind the fact the neighbor across the street let’s their small dog run loose all the time. He comes in our yard almost daily. My boyfriend has had conflict with that neighbor and the one to our right so I just try to keep to myself.
I am actually currently recovering from a tonsillectomy I had last week. Having an aggressive dog even had an effect on my recovery. My mother couldn’t come up to help care for me because she has our other dog. I can’t have friends over with out her having to be crated and she barks constantly when anyone else is in our home. It is isolating and sad and frustrating. I wish so much that I had a “nice” dog. I tried to talk to my parents about it and they made me feel like a horrible person for even considering. The decision is fully on me as my boyfriend said he cannot tell me what to decide. She is my dog. I had her before him and he does fully support me with what ever i choose but he said he will not tell me that when I make a decision that it is the right one. Which is devastating.
Registered: 1519096829 Posts: 6
Yes I do have time. Have you had to go through the same thing?
I forgot to mention in my last post. The other week I was working in my studio at home. I am a jeweler and have a studio set up in the first floor bedroom and work from home. I had been working for a few hours and often she lays in the entry way of the room and just hangs out with me. She keeps a distance because she doesn’t like a lot of the noise and is afraid of the torch. I was busy working away and didn’t notice she had left. I had stopped working to go into the kitchen as I was walking out of my studio down the hall I could see her laying in her crate. It’s set up in the living room and is a straight shot if you’re in the hallway. Her eyes were open but I think she was actually asleep. I must have startled her awake because she came charging me at full speed and barking. She has different pitched barks and this was her alert/“intruder” bark. It caught me off guard. I wasn’t scared because I know she won’t ever bite me but I was just surprised and she is so fast that I didn’t say her name until she was right at my feet. Once I said her name her demeanor completely changed and she relaxed and went back to her usual self. It was so odd.