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Options for an Aggressive German Shepherd Dog – Part 2

Regarding your column: Options for an Aggressive Dog

You really are crazy! I’m a Veterinary Technician. Don’t ever say Euthanasia is one of the options for an aggressive dog! Its not. And it shouldn’t be one of your four ridiculous so called “solutions”. I don’t hope to ever see your ridiculous scenarios in your column again. Your title of the article “Child-aggressive dog leads to tough choices” is completely unorthodox. Great, now people will think the completely wrong thoughts of a German Shepherd who shouldn’t be feared from the first place.

My 2 year old German Shepherd didn’t like smaller children but with the proper guidance and (not to mention you should have made this your first “option”) teaching the child to properly introduce themselves to a dog, she gets along great with smaller children! And my dog has been teased from the kids who go to an elementary school behind us!!

Dog Whisperer’s “Rottweiler” Attacking A 4-Year-Old Girl In The Mall! 07/20/2011
[youtube 8arycF8EvMc]

Options for an Aggressive DogSame dog trainer’s dog 2nd attack. Note the 2nd quotation:

“Lech’s dog, which was not on a leash, dragged her along the beach.The dog bit Meeka 11 times and she had to have surgery.The Cape Argus reported last week that the dog, “D”, had been put down at a private vet chosen by Lech.Lech runs a dog training and rehabilitation centre in Camps Bay and styles himself as a “dog shaman” and “dog whisperer”.”

Never would I have imagined that this incident could come to pass. Perhaps it could be said that I put too much trust into this animal, being unable to read his mind or question him directly, but I am wholeheartedly prepared to proceed responsibly.

Its about how you teach the dog to behave, not about putting it down.

– Xoleesahxo

Dear Xoleesahxo,

I do get letters once in a while when a column even mentions euthanasia as one of the options for an aggressive dog, but they’re usually from animal rights loonies. This surprised me. A veterinarian technician? Where would a veterinarian technician that believed euthanasia was never an option go to school or find work for that matter?

I don’t know of any college or clinic where in a case as serious as child aggression, euthanasia is not an option. Any real professional’s training includes euthanasia when the first three of the “ridiculous options” aka training, (I’m not sure how you could have missed it but the first option was training), safety strategies and rehoming have proven impossible

Something that really struck me as odd, particularly considering you’re a vet tech with such strong opinions about euthanasia, aggression, training and aggression rehabilitation, was the bit about your own German Shepherd that didn’t like smaller children because it had “been teased from the kids who go to an elementary school behind us!!” One of the reasons dogs are euthanized for behaviour problems such as child aggression is because dog owners leave their dogs unsupervised around children. Doing so to an impressionable GSD under 2 years of age with the knowledge there is a “elementary school behind us!!” might be considered a little “crazy”. Its not exactly news that children tease dogs. A dog owner would have to be extremely inexperienced or just irresponsible to knowingly leave a more territorially driven breed like a german shepherd subjected to the whims of children in recess mode enough so that it “didn’t like smaller children.”

For those of us that have assessed child aggressive dogs it’s actions like yours which result in people thinking “the completely wrong thoughts of a German Shepherd” or any breed for that matter. Fortunately some dogs such as yours can be turned around but frankly someone that “knows” and loves German Shepherds, has a diploma as a veterinary technician and such strong opinions about euthanasia should know better. Your dog’s aggression was caused by your ignorance and neglect and to put it bluntly put children at risk.

Come out from under your cloak of anonymity and send me your contact information and I will pass it along to dog trainers, veterinarians, animal rescues and loving dog owners trying to find a solution other than euthanasia for dogs we regularly encounter that are child aggressive, as we’re not thrilled with euthanasia either and would love to have access to your magic wand.

You must have unlimited time, or more money and training ability than the resources we have to tap into so I hope you can step past criticism and step up to the plate. I’ll make some calls and have a boat load of dogs for you before the end of the day. If you are taking euthanasia off of our table we’re taking the option of saying, “No” from yours.

Have a look at the video and the articles in the sidebar.


John Wade

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4 thoughts on “Options for an Aggressive German Shepherd Dog – Part 2”

  1. Recently our family experienced the heartbreak of our young dog becoming extremely aggressive and dominant that was not only shocking and indiscriminate, but nothing short of terrifying and dangerous with a large breed male. Through evaluations with professionals, we learned that our dog was unusually aggressive and dominant for his age. Also, that sometimes a loving home is not enough, and sadly a small percentage of dogs, who may also share many wonderful traits are also hard wired for severe behavioral issues. Having children in our home made our decisions not only urgent, but critical as obviously the safety of our children is paramount, but the love our family shared for our dog was undeniable. The support that we received from John Wade was very professional, balanced and appreciated with the extremely difficult decisions that we were confronted with.

  2. I received the following from someone that felt I was too harsh in my response to Xoleesahxo:

    “I am utterly appalled by to your response to Xoleesahxo. That was an entirely inappropriate way to handle a letter of opinion! Shame on you. That response was one of the most condescending columns I have the misfortune of reading in a very long time. You have your opinions and the writer had their own. That is no reason to write to that person in that way. Your actions resulted in an extremely rude and demeaning letter. ”

    Here’s how I feel about this:

    Admittedly I have very little tolerance for opinions such as Xoleesahxo’s but I wasn’t really shooting for condescending or much else as it has been my experience that people with opinions like Xoleesahxo’s are never moved by anything I have ever had to say. The column was intended to make the people that I know have, and will have, the misfortune of crossing paths with Xoleesahxo or one of similar ilk feel better. I am referring to the people in the rescue world, veterinary world, training world and dog ownership world that do not need people like Xoleesahxo trying to make them feel worse. People that have or will face the difficult decision of choosing between a dog that can for whatever reason not be rehabilitated do not need to suffer by reading or hearing such tripe.

    That being said, I do not agree with you that Xoleesahxo was expressing an opinion. Xoleesahxo clearly wrote that euthanasia is never an option and did so brandishing an authority, that being a veterinary technician. Coming from a layperson it might be considered a naive opinion. Expressing that same “opinion” as a veterinary technician was an attempt to turn Xoleesahxo, into the voice of authority and that changed the level of dialogue and in my mind opened the door for me to expose the multiple incongruities without the restraint I might have otherwise extended.

    Vet techs do not receive enough training to claim expertise in even basic behaviour let alone aggression assessment so there was intent to mislead the public. Secondly, I have grave doubts Xoleesahxo could actually be a veterinary technician as I have had the pleasure of participating in the education of many 100’s of registered veterinary technicians and no where in their schooling or in any clinic work place would they find that euthanasia was never an option and so my response was also intended to highlight his or her likely deception.

    How Xoleesahxo could fixate on the euthanasia aspect of that column when the word euthanasia was used once and it couldn’t have been made clearer it was the last option suggests a highly selective eye. Xoleesahxo offered chastisement that training should have been the first option. Not only was it but 3 out of 7 paragraphs were devoted to the importance and role of training. The word train or training was used 8 times and the word euthanasia once.

    The only explanation I can find is that it seems likely that Xoleesahxo had an agenda to pursue and hoped to use me to shine a light on it. For better or worse she succeeded.

    I hope that Xoleesahxo watches the video above.

  3. cynthia

    I have a 3 yr old neutered male GSD who went from docile to aggressive to most other dogs. I have contacted trainers, behaviorists, vets, and have been unsuccessfully working on this problem for a good 6 months. The dog is never mistreated but I think he began this as a result of being bullied in the dog park as I was socializing him. I no longer take him there but now he’s terrible with other dogs. He will remember and play with his certain dog ‘friends’ when we meet them in places other than the dog park (another regular park). He does not attack them but most others. He is a very large GSD 108 lbs and is stronger than I and knows it. Otherwise, he’s close to perfect and will behave well off leash. He’s nice to my Pomeranian as well. This began at about 2 1/2 years of age and caught me totally off guard. I did not become tense around him and other dogs until a few months ago. One trainer had me put him in the down position when approaching another dog. It worked sometimes but I realized that it was too much emphasis on the entire encounter so I quit doing it. Now I just keep walking past the other dogs and it does work better. The problem is still not solved and I use a muzzle in public on leash just for everyone’s protection. He loves people and is great with kids. We walk most days 3 1/2 miles with running and sometimes with another dog. This is not my first GSD and I have never had this problem before to this extent. In the beginning, I was very hopeful that this could be nipped in the bud fairly quickly but now I am not sure at all. I try to beef up his confidence in the meantime and keep things calm. I’ll take all of the advice I can get…also thinking of having a thyroid panel done but he really has zero symptoms of that, He recently lost weight via diet, good mood and happy, loves to swim, run and chase balls…no lethargy or skin issues but he is itching right now. That began about 1 week ago. He does have some impulse control issues about getting excited about going out which is egged on by my Pom.
    No food aggression, good appetite, not ravenous but eats well, good food …Nutro weight control formula, regular vet checks, does receive adequan injection monthly for hips, hip and joint supplements. That’s all I can think of. Thanks.

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