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Posts: 2
Hello All-

I’ve been reading similar posts about euthanasia for aggressive/ reactive dogs and have appreciated the support you have offered eachother. I’m curious if you would be willing to advise me on my situation.

My pit/lab mix, Walter, is my everything. Both out of choice and because he has had to be. I rescued him when he was about 9 months old. I knew there was abuse history but the Animal Control I got him from said he passed all his assessments. I would later learn that was not to be the case.

I had dogs all growing up but had never experienced a dog with reactive behavioral issues and was quickly on the fast track of dog training, studying behaviors, nutrition, management, the works...

For the first couple months after adopting him, he was “alert” but fine. I didn’t know how to read nervous signals yet though. It was suggested that we socialize him ASAP. We found a well reviewed dog day care. He was generally ok but had to be removed many times for his anxiousness and anti social behaviors. So doggie day care wasn’t for him. No problem. That anti dog behavior progressed dramatically over time but we were able to reshape the behavior for the most part and he has several dog friends he adores. Though he still will react to some dogs on walks. But, dog/dog reactivity I could deal with.

Its the people I worry about. The first time I saw Walter lunge at a person was when I was stretching after a run in my front yard and a guy stopped to say something lewd. Protective? Alright.

But his reactivity progressed through his “puberty.” I enlisted a trainer and certified behaviorist. He went on doggie Prozac. His environment was monitored. Diet changes. I was committed, as tough as it was.

He’s better st ignoring things on walks. He often times can walk past triggers wth little issue. 8 out of 10 he’s good. I know techniques to reduce issues. He doesn’t meet a lot of people but generally does ok when I take the proper introduction protocol (if he gets introduced.) Once he warms up, he’s your bud.

But it’s that 2 out of 10 that worry me. And it’s mostly monitoring the home situation. It’s the surprises that scare me and things that I can’t control. We’ve had some incidences. He went after a dog on a hiking trail and gave him a small but deep gash in his stomach. Another time a hiker or jogger has surprised us and my dog jumped up and nipped their arm before I pulled his leash back. He bit a teenager who was trying to reach over our fence to pet him. He had 4 puncture wounds and needed multiple stitches. He’s lunged and I feel strongly that there have been many incidences where he would have but had I not had a leash or fence in place.

I’ve tried to manage everything as best as I can. I live in an apartment now I can barely afford because it’s “everything just right” for my dog (but have to move.) I’ve worked 2 jobs now for several years to make ends meet. Walter is quite “alert” and tends to bark for quick bursts easily before settling down quickly, which can be annoying for neighbors we share a wall with.

But the rental search is making me aware of the limitations. Right now My apartment has a private entrance so now chance of running into people when we come and go. Also, a 5’ fenced in backyard I paid for myself. Walter loves this setup to explore, play in his kiddie pool, and lay in the sun. He has his only freedom in the backyard under my watchful eye. Now that I’m looking again, he won’t have that. He can’t run around off leash anywhere.

90% of the time he is a love bug, snuggler, sweetheart with the biggest smile. I never worry about my own safety ever. He adores me.

But I live in constant stress. His freedoms have been taken away. Simple things he enjoys are being reduced. I’m aware of how critical it is what neighborhoods we live in, entrance set ups, neighbors, etc. I worry about what if someone leaves a gate open? (one time they did but I got to it first) What if when my Mom visits and she accidentally lets him slip out the door? In a new place we won’t have a completely fenced in backyard. What if a kid runs up to him and I can’t control it? What if the barking causes issues? What if a neighbor pops outside to where we are sitting and his leash can reach him before I get to my dog?

I feel like my life has revolved around him, I’ve made many sacrifices and I’ve gone into financial debt. I get anxious about having people over so keep it to a minimum. I have avoided serious dating bc I’m not sure anyone would sign up for this. I worry about the what if’s that are very real. Unfortunately I can not afford a single family house with a tall fenced in backyard now.

I love him so very much. I just don’t know if my love is clouding the right decision. Or, if maybe I could do more...but at what cost to my own life? He’s apart of me and I don’t know what I’d do without him. One part of me feels I would be heartbroken and another senses relief. Can it be both? What do I do for my life, his happiness, and the safety of others?

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