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I’ve had my dog ever since I was 16 (I am now 23). She is a lovely spaniel – several people (and a few expert dog people) told me how blessed I am with such a well-natured dog. She is a barker but other than that she is calm, friendly, I am pretty much convinced she isn’t aware that she is able to bite (people or dogs). I love her so much.

Me and my boyfriend have been together for 7 years now and he always wanted a dog, he loved mine but wanted one of his own. So when we moved in together, we decided to adopt another one. He always wanted a German shepherd so we got a year old German shepherd mix. He had some issues but nothing that would stand out in the beginning. We went to check him out at first, went for long walks, the adoption process was quite long – we didn’t take him in officially until after more than 2 months. In this time, I already was aware that I have not truly fallen in love with this dog – once on a nice walk around the neighborhood, he started aggressively barking at a small child. I am aware that dogs always have a reason for such a behavior but this was as unprovoked as it could be (from human perspective). Ever since this accident, I had a difficult job getting to love him – he wasn’t as lovely as my dog and he was dominant, did not appear grateful as adopted dogs usually are, he was hyperactive and he didn’t have the eyes – you know the dog’s eyes that you would do anything for. I even told my bf about my mixed feelings but we had a huge fight from which I gathered that to not take him in at this point would mean a pretty severe bump, if not an end, in our relationship.

We’ve had the two dogs for almost a year now. They get together well and we made some progress in his behavior issues, his relationship with children, his overly active behavior. I work from home so I spend most of the time with the dogs, my bf started working a lot since we got him and doesn’t have the time he had before. I try to treat both dogs equally. All was going well, we even made progress on the hating children issue. I wasn’t even nervous when I found out I was pregnant, I was sure he will be OK.

Yesterday, the dog attacked a little girl. On my watch. It was completely and entirely my fault. I must’ve fasten the leash wrong and he just ran riot and bit the girl in the leg. She is OK and was not badly injured at all – there was no blood (not lessening what she went through though) and I of course made sure she was fine and we did all that the law requires here in my country. But I just… I just cannot get over this experience. I can see the attack every time I close my eyes – again, an attack which I am sure made sense to him, but from my point of view was completely unprovoked. The girl wasn’t even near us, he had to run to her to attack her… and I just hate him for what he did. I hate myself for what I’ve caused the girl and for failing terribly – despite reading all the books and following expert’s advice. I am fully aware that it was my fault and/or our fault, of course he is a dog from a shelter and had issues before but we should’ve and could’ve done more. Like he wasn’t wearing a muzzle since he’s never bit anybody or that he ran loose.

But now I’m at the point when I cannot look at him and love him anymore. I condemned people who “returned” adopted dogs to the shelters but if it was on me, I would give him away. To a good home, but away. And I used to love every dog and every innocent animal – but I am now unable to love him, I failed myself and him as well. I am afraid – what will he do to my unborn child? How am I going to handle him when I’m all alone during the day? How on earth am I to handle two dogs and a newborn, not to mention a toddler later on? I have no worries about my dog, she will do fine plus my parents offered to take her anytime. But they won’t take the other aggressive dog.

I just needed to write this down, unsure if I ever post it anywhere… if you’ve read this, thank you for your time. If you have any advice, I am truly desperate so I will try it all. Have a lovely day.
 

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I'm sorry :(. I myself went from a perfect dog to a dog who has major behavioral challenges (thankfully he has never bitten but I can't guarantee he wouldn't). I love my little guy, but it took a looooong time to do so and there are still days I lay down, exhausted.

What behavioral modifications have you tried?

For now, I'd concentrate on management. Condition him to wear a muzzle - there are YouTube videos on how to make it a positive experience. And don't let him off leash.

Additionally, take time to heal yourself. It's a very stressful experience.

I wouldn't blame you for wanting to rehome, but keep in mind that it's very hard to rehome a dog with a bite history. Most shelters will just put him down, and with a family you would have to disclose his history and be very, very careful about who he went to.
 

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When a dog has bitten someone, and in this case, it was an unprovoked bite to a young child, it's time to consult professionals.

First, the dog needs to see a vet. You'll want to get a full blood workup, especially a thyroid panel, to rule out any medical issues that might be causing your dog to act out.

Second, your dog should be evaluated by an experienced and qualified animal behaviorist. (Watch out for unqualified trainers.) Without direct observation, none of us can determine what really is going wrong and whether the dog's behavior can be modified.

Frankly speaking, I would not keep this dog if I were expecting a child.
 
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