Agressive Dog: Rescue or Place?

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Agressive Dog: Rescue or Place?

This is a discussion on Agressive Dog: Rescue or Place? within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; In my neighborhood there is a large lack of rehabilitators for aggressive dogs. Seeing this lack and feeling perfectly comfortable in this sitaution, I want ...

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Old 01-13-2018, 07:34 PM
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Agressive Dog: Rescue or Place?

In my neighborhood there is a large lack of rehabilitators for aggressive dogs. Seeing this lack and feeling perfectly comfortable in this sitaution, I want to fill the void. Sometimes I need outside help, like the post about my friend's dog penis biting, but usually I can take care of the problem through simple excercise and socialization.

All that said, I got presented with an interesting case. A woman that knows of my "work" in my neighborhood offered to let me have her pit mix for free if I can take care of his "problem." What's the problem you ask? He has random moments where he snaps and tries to kill the nearest animal near him, even if that animal is the owner. I tried the common reasons of excercise and socialization but that is not the problem as he gets two hour walks and is perfectly fine 90% of the time at a dog park. The owner has spent thousands of dollars on obedience and he listens to commands just fine outside of these snap sessions. She did try an e-collar but from what I witnessed, it wasn't used properly (triggered during the fight instead of right before,) so it may not be effective now due to this.

Lastly, I we don't know much about its past, but we thing it is an ex-fighting dog as it know what it's doing as it always goes straight for the neck. Also, any work that gets done is going to be straight from me as it has been banned from many establishments in my city.

So to the question: I don't want to euthenize it if possible, so I was wondering if anyone has any ideas before it turns into a law suit or I do have the euthenize it. All the shelters in the city, including the no-kills, said that if we hand it over, it will end the same way. Thanks in advance

Edit: Title is supposed to be "Rescue or pass" not place

Last edited by keddre; 01-13-2018 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 01-14-2018, 05:45 AM
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If you take the dog you're taking on a huge liability. That being said, I'd find out if it's had a full medical and neurological workup since past injuries, thyroid issues, post traumatic stress disorder, past training from its fight training, Lyme disease and pain could be triggering it to snap without obvious warning to people.

I would not use a shock collar especially on this dog, as they can cause increased aggression and it could have been trained to fight using a shock collar. More pain if it has any pain could cause more aggression.

I'd only take on this dog with a qualified trainer or behaviorist that specializes in aggression, preferably rehabbing former fight dogs. Although the dog may be free, trying to rehabilitate it will not be. A medical workup and behaviorist and training and maybe medications will cost quite a bit. Good for you for wanting to save it, just know it's very risky, probably won't be cheap and will be very dangerous to anyone near the dog, so it would be safer to isolate the dog completely to protect the rest of society.

Many dogs can be aggressive to people or aggressive to animals, not always both, although some certainly are. I don't usually hear of dogs viewing people as animals to attack. Is that what the dogs owner told you?
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Old 01-14-2018, 10:18 AM
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Have there been injuries and if so how severe?
In detail, what are the situations in which this dog has snapped?
Known background? ("Going for the neck" doesn't imply "fighting dog")

Honestly, assuming this is as severe as you suggest via your language ("trying to kill") for the best chance of success, the dog likely needs to be assessed by and owner work with a veterinary behaviorist and/or behaviorist (legitimate, certified, Ph.D, etc.) or behavior consultant (certified).
There is a thread in the behavior and training sticky subforum with links to help find a truely qualified professional.

Medical and behavioral causes for "snapping" need to be explored.

Exercise and socialization alone is typically not a long term solution to serious aggression and other more severe behavior issues. Nor is obedience training alone. Success requires behavior modification, often life long management, medication in some cases....

What you decide to do depends on your skill level as a trainer, what you are willing to take on liability wise, and how much you are willing to invest in both time and money (serious behaviour problems are extremely costly and never a guarentee so may end up needing to euth after a large investment).

Personally, no way would I take on (neither as a client nor personally) a dog who has attempted to seriously harm a human. I wouldn't take on a dog who has done so with another dog either. Liability is far too great and I won't risk my current dogs/cat or my clients'safety.

I also have to add, if this is as severe as you imply, this dog should not be at dog parks and other such public spaces. Even if good 90% of the time, you are taking a huge risk both in liabilty and the safety of others. Please reconsider how this dog is being handled on a day to day basis.
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Last edited by kmes; 01-14-2018 at 01:31 PM.
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Old 01-14-2018, 12:36 PM
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If you have a dog that wants to fight and is inclined towards direct or indirect (as in redirected) aggression, then "Socialisation", as understood by the general public is likely to be a very risky business, and unlikely to work. I don't know how you approach this, but if he's loose, you are almost ASKING for the law suit to say nothing of injured people and animals. If he's out in public, muzzle him.

@Shadowmom makes very good points.

Full vet check.

Do not use a shock collar, prong collar, etc., in general, violence breeds violence.

Follow the advice from @kmes, "veterinary behaviorist and/or behaviorist (legitimate, certified, Ph.D, etc.) or behavior consultant (certified)" and do your homework first. Get someone who specialises in aggression cases to help you.

From what you've said, I would be sceptical of "ex-fighting dog".

The lady that had him doesn't know his early history or she'd tell you (maybe).

As a scenario, he could have been owned by somebody that wanted a "hard" dog and "trained" him with consequences, force and violence and may have encoraged aggression. When that person disappeared from the picture, the dog came to her. She tried to "fix" it with obedience lessons, again, you don't know the methods, but the appearance of a shock collar without training doesn't sound too good.

From what I've seen, dogs that are bred for fighting fall into two categories, those that want to and those that do not - genetics determine which way they fall.

Also, animals are bred specifically for purpose and those that do not "make the grade" do not normally survive. It's unlikely that the owner will try to rehome such a dog.

Be mindful that you cannot "rehabilitate" genetics and you cannot "rehabilitate" aggression. These are both natural, like old age. Behaviour modification may help, but that decision should come from a qualified professional that has seen the dog.

Ongoing, permanent management (muzzle, separation from others, etc.) is probably necessary, along with significant time and money (previous owner's spent thousands, you'll be doing the same and there are no guarantees).

Based on your original post, in your situation, I would pass on this one.
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Old 01-14-2018, 03:41 PM
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What specifically does going for the neck mean? If he's good in dog parks 90 percent of the time I seriously doubt he was a true fighting dog.
My last dog was returned to the shelter at nine months of age due to being rambunctious and aggressive with other dogs. He was an akita pitbull mix, both breeds can be aggressive with other dogs. He wasn't fully housebroken and his first nine months he lived with his brother with a single mother and nine year old boy. It sounded like the dogs were left in the basement and yard a lot.

I trained and socialized him his whole life. He was never good in dog parks. I was able to take him once and he ignored the other dogs and focused on fetch with me.

He had individual buddies but no treats, toys or even water bowls could be around or his resource guarding would emerge. I trained him to be loose with and ignore other dogs.
He'd "go for the throat". First he'd give every possible body signal that he did not want to meet, greet or play. He'd walk away snarling. If the other dog persisted in pestering him he'd fast as lightning silently pin them down and hold them down by the throat. He was 75 pounds and easily pinned and held mastiffs, great Danes, German Shepherds, and many dogs twice his weight. Never once did he even leave a mark, although a lot of dogs would scream or yelp in fear.
The only time he ever hurt a dog was when I petted another dog he was peacefully coexisting with. He sprang and interestingly didn't go for the throat that one time but gave him a puncture wound in his ear. I paid the vet bill. Never petted another dog again in front of him, too expensive.

So going for the neck can be instinctive and a warning, not always an intent to kill. My current dog is not aggressive and loves to wrestle and play with other dogs. He's always chewing on other dogs on their neck and face area, usually grabs the collar or harness. They do the same to him. No marks, no whimpering, loose bouncy playful wiggly body language, alternates who chases and tackles who. Some new owners act horrified saying our dogs are viciously trying to kill each other and attacking their throats. Um no they're not.
Both my dogs went for the neck but in very different ways. That's pure instinct. The intent and circumstances is what's trickier.
I'm not at all trying to imply that the dog you posted about is just harmlessly playing like my current dog.
My last dog was much more intense and frightening the two times he lunged and pinned dogs that were loose and actively threatening to attack me. Both times I gave him credit for not harming them and just holding them and scaring them until their owners arrived. His intensity was from feeling a need to protect me from harm and different from when he just didn't want to play.
Too many unknowns about this dog you posted about.
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Old 01-14-2018, 05:10 PM
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Pass, pass, pass. This dog sounds like a massive liability, and a terrible option given what you have said are looking for in a dog.

Quote:
Originally Posted by keddre View Post
All that said, I got presented with an interesting case. A woman that knows of my "work" in my neighborhood offered to let me have her pit mix for free if I can take care of his "problem." What's the problem you ask? He has random moments where he snaps and tries to kill the nearest animal near him, even if that animal is the owner.
Dogs are perfectly capable of differentiating humans from non-human animals, so this dog appears (based on the above description) to have 2 issues; human aggression and animal aggression. Either on its own can be difficult to manage, and human aggression is considered aberrant behavior for a pit bull, though, depending on his mix, maybe less so due to that. It sounds like his current owner is tired of the responsibility and liability of owning a potentially dangerous dog, and looking for a "feel good" solution of passing her problem off on someone else, rather than seeing it through to an end herself (whether she euthanizes him or keeps him responsibly for the rest of his days). Not to unfairly critique your dog handling skills, but passing a dog like this to someone who has never owned a dog is the epitome of irresponsible behavior.

Quote:
I tried the common reasons of excercise and socialization but that is not the problem as he gets two hour walks and is perfectly fine 90% of the time at a dog park. The owner has spent thousands of dollars on obedience and he listens to commands just fine outside of these snap sessions.
I'm not a fan of pit bulls in dog parks at all due to their propensity for dog aggression, but particularly in light of the fact that this dog has previously "tried to kill" both other animals and humans, he doesn't belong off leash, in public, EVER. One incident is all it would take to potentially ruin someone's life, lose everything the owner/handler owns in a lawsuit, result in the dog being destroyed, and spur a flurry of breed restrictions. Not worth the risk with a history of even one incident, nevermind repeated ones. A dog like this should be enjoying a secure, enriched home environment, with muzzled leashed walks in low activity areas and times, if at all.

Quote:
She did try an e-collar but from what I witnessed, it wasn't used properly (triggered during the fight instead of right before,) so it may not be effective now due to this.
Even correcting right before a fight is extremely unlikely to prevent said fight from occurring. This is not the place for discussion of aversive training, but the window to intervene when a dog is considering fighting is the moment the thought crosses his or her mind. To apply a physical correction at the time he is gearing up to fight is akin to dumping fuel on a flame.

Quote:
Lastly, I we don't know much about its past, but we thing it is an ex-fighting dog as it know what it's doing as it always goes straight for the neck.
Dog fighters tend not to let their dogs get too far from their possession, and his behavior toward humans would have likely gotten him put down by a dog fighter, so that is quite unlikely. Many dogs will grab other dogs by the head or neck when they get into a fight, and it sounds like he unfortunately has had numerous opportunities to hone his skills in his current home.

Quote:
Also, any work that gets done is going to be straight from me as it has been banned from many establishments in my city.
Again, this is a great indicator of the level of liability you would be assuming in taking this dog, knowing he has a well documented history of aggression. If he were to injure someone or animal, you would be buried up to your eyes in lawsuits and possibly face criminal charges as well given your knowledge of the dog's behavior history. It's really a bad idea. It's a shame the dog has landed in this spot, but be thankful he's not your problem, politely suggest that the owner continue to seek professional advice and keep apprised of the local dog legislation; then go adopt a nice dog that fits your needs, if you desire.
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Old 01-14-2018, 05:25 PM
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Sorry for the late responses y'all. I have been busy with interviews, condo shopping and university starting back up.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadowmom View Post
If you take the dog you're taking on a huge liability. That being said, I'd find out if it's had a full medical and neurological workup since past injuries, thyroid issues, post traumatic stress disorder, past training from its fight training, Lyme disease and pain could be triggering it to snap without obvious warning to people.
This would be the first thing I'm doing if I do get it. It's a little sneaky, but since I got this job at the humane society, I'm trying to see if I can get it accepted, then immediatly adopt it. That way I can get all those tests done for free.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadowmom View Post
I'd only take on this dog with a qualified trainer or behaviorist that specializes in aggression, preferably rehabbing former fight dogs. Although the dog may be free, trying to rehabilitate it will not be. A medical workup and behaviorist and training and maybe medications will cost quite a bit. Good for you for wanting to save it, just know it's very risky, probably won't be cheap and will be very dangerous to anyone near the dog, so it would be safer to isolate the dog completely to protect the rest of society.
Since isolating the dog would be impossible in my situation, this comes down to an all or nothing. Either I can fix this or it's euthenasia.
I will look for professionals but it will be hard. Many resources have already been exhausted on this guy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadowmom View Post
Many dogs can be aggressive to people or aggressive to animals, not always both, although some certainly are. I don't usually hear of dogs viewing people as animals to attack. Is that what the dogs owner told you?
This is what she has told me, but also what I have personally seen. As far as first hand experience, I saw it turn on the the owner when she was trying the "no food until you sit" trick; however, she claims that it attacks dogs and has killed one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kmes View Post
Have there been injuries and if so how severe?
Multiple human attacks, one dead dog, one hospitilized, a few lightly injured.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kmes View Post
In detail, what are the situations in which this dog has snapped?
From what I witnessed, one time she was trying the "no food until sit" trick and he got tired of sitting a lunged up. Owner's husband said when meeting unfamiliar dogs. The owner's friend said she thinks it is when it gets over-excited. But the actual owner says it comes when something he doesn't want happens. IE: she tried to put him in the crate once and he turned on her. I won't really know until I am able to have him under me all day and can watch what happens when he's on my schedule.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kmes View Post
Known background? ("Going for the neck" doesn't imply "fighting dog")
Unkown, picked up of the streets with no chip or ID in a malnurished state.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kmes View Post
Honestly, assuming this is as severe as you suggest via your language ("trying to kill") for the best chance of success, the dog likely needs to be assessed by and owner work with a veterinary behaviorist and/or behaviorist (legitimate, certified, Ph.D, etc.) or behavior consultant (certified).
There is a thread in the behavior and training sticky subforum with links to help find a truely qualified professional.
Headed to that wiki now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kmes View Post
Medical and behavioral causes for "snapping" need to be explored.

Exercise and socialization alone is typically not a long term solution to serious aggression and other more severe behavior issues. Nor is obedience training alone. Success requires behavior modification, often life long management, medication in some cases....

What you decide to do depends on your skill level as a trainer, what you are willing to take on liability wise, and how much you are willing to invest in both time and money (serious behaviour problems are extremely costly and never a guarentee so may end up needing to euth after a large investment).

Personally, no way would I take on (neither as a client nor personally) a dog who has attempted to seriously harm a human. I wouldn't take on a dog who has done so with another dog either. Liability is far too great and I won't risk my current dogs/cat or my clients'safety.

I also have to add, if this is as severe as you imply, this dog should not be at dog parks and other such public spaces. Even if good 90% of the time, you are taking a huge risk both in liabilty and the safety of others. Please reconsider how this dog is being handled on a day to day basis.
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Thanks for all your input. One thing that I really one to try before the owner euthenizes is just to see how he acts on my schedule. I want to explorer if it is a owner issue, a brain issue like you and Shadow suggested or something deeper. This may sound wierd, but I would feel better if this was a constant aggression issue, rather than the random one like I'm being told.


@Ptolmy82
Thanks for your input

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadowmom View Post
What specifically does going for the neck mean? If he's good in dog parks 90 percent of the time I seriously doubt he was a true fighting dog.
I hate to say it means what it means, but it means he goes for your neck. From what I know usually an aggressive dog bites what's near it, usually your arm, but this dog doesn't. It always goes straight up and tries to grab your neck, which is why both the owner and husband have bites on their shoulders and upper-arm.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadowmom View Post
He'd "go for the throat". First he'd give every possible body signal that he did not want to meet, greet or play. He'd walk away snarling. If the other dog persisted in pestering him he'd fast as lightning silently pin them down and hold them down by the throat. He was 75 pounds and easily pinned and held mastiffs, great Danes, German Shepherds, and many dogs twice his weight. Never once did he even leave a mark, although a lot of dogs would scream or yelp in fear.
The only time he ever hurt a dog was when I petted another dog he was peacefully coexisting with. He sprang and interestingly didn't go for the throat that one time but gave him a puncture wound in his ear. I paid the vet bill. Never petted another dog again in front of him, too expensive.
By neck, I meant human necks, he does go after the dogs throat too but I find it strange that he goes for ours. I'm not going to say he didn't put them out there, but in the scenerio I witnessed, I don't remember any signs like lip licking or teeth bearing. To me it seemed surprising too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadowmom View Post
Too many unknowns about this dog you posted about.
I understand that

Last edited by keddre; 01-14-2018 at 05:32 PM.
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Old 01-14-2018, 05:32 PM
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Alright thanks for all y'alls input. I am meeting her in person again this week and I will probably just break it to her that this dog is just too dangerous.

@busannie
I see what you're saying and you're right but to be fair, I was the one stopping her. I just didn't want to see a dog go down if there was anything at all I could do to stop it.
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Old 01-14-2018, 05:48 PM
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I've heard there are sanctuaries for aggressive untrainable dogs where they can live out their days. I don't know the process of getting a dog into one or how long the wait is.
If he's killed a dog and seriously hurt another one, I wouldn't bring him to a dog park or bring him around other dogs in general, especially if he attacks people too.
What you do know sounds like he definitely needs a vet workup and behaviorist evaluation. Maybe the owner is poor at training and he's learned some dangerous behaviors but they are learned at this point.
My current dog went through a phase of fighting with other male dogs at the dog park. He never left a mark on another dog and the two times his ear got chewed a bit he got scared and now runs to me and won't fight at all.
My last dog that was dog aggressive never hurt another dog except for a puncture wound in an ear once. Outpatient vet visit, no hospital stay.

This dog sounds like he does serious damage. Be very careful! If he did bite you in the neck it could be life threatening very quickly.
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Old 01-14-2018, 08:57 PM
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Exclamation Eek.

.

that he attacks w/o apparent provocation or with no pattern discernible in what trips his trigger, means this could be an idiopathic neural issue - i'm thinking specifically of focal seizures.
Unfortunately, pitties [grade type / Am Staff / APBTs], EBTs, & to a lesser degree, the smaller Staffy of the UK, are susceptible to several neurological problems - trancing, focal seizures that manifest as aggro, tail-chasing / spinning, & fly-snapping are among them.

I wouldn't take him as a present with a ribbon tied in a bow, even with all his gear - the liability is enormous, the cost is potentially astronomical, & the odds of success are extremely low.
A vet-behaviorist workup is the very least of what he needs, with a full thyroid panel / MSU or HemoPet analysis, possibly a consultation with a k9 neurologist, etc, etc.

Multi-million dollar judgments have been awarded in U-S courts when dogs have not even TOUCHED the person; they merely were frightened, with or without reasonable cause.
Dog law in this country is so erratic as to be a game of chance, rather than rule of law & precedent.

I'd pass.

- terry

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