At what point would you advise putting an aggressive dog down? I have no problem doing it if it is necessary, but I’d also like to give the dog the ability to change his behavior if it’s possible.
My dog growls and snaps at everyone in our family often when we try to take toys or food from him. We have tried all of the things the trainer advised (taking the toy, saying “No!” loudly, giving him food and then taking it away, making him work for whatever he has, etc.) He has never bitten anyone else, but he has growled and snapped at a child when we were at a playground. (Yes, the child was running toward him and yelling. It was a kid at a playground, I expect nothing less.) We obviously haven’t taken him out to places where kids are, but we are thinking maybe it’s time to just put him down.
Thanks for your advice.
Great question. I’ll do my best to answer about when you should put a dog down for aggression but if you are accurately conveying what ‘the trainer’ has advised it is highly likely that you have an amateur trainer.
Read these and decide for yourself whether you’ve been getting the best advice. It’s possible you and your dog have been set up for failure?
- Puppy Mouthing, Nipping and Biting – When It Doesn’t Get Better Or Is Getting Worse – This Is Probably Why – by John Wade (Free)
- ‘What Are The Different (and best) Puppy and Dog Training Methods? – by John Wade’(.99 cents)
Behaviorally speaking, one very significant reason so many people run into behavior issues with their dogs is that of the level of expertise in dog trainers they encounter.
The concept of Caveat Emptor is as apropos in the companion dog training world as anywhere. Perhaps more so.
Companion dog training is an unregulated industry unfortunately now dominated by people without the educational background or in its place, the intellect, and the self-discipline to acquire an understanding at the very least of critical thinking, scientific methodology, cognitive bias, etc. This has left many unable to distinguish between legitimate and applicable behavior science and pseudo-scientific ideology.
The end result for companion dog owners are the following two realities:
1. The majority of trainers companion dog owners now encounter have been influenced by ‘All Positive/Purely Positive/Force-Free’ or ‘Might Is Right’ companion dog training dogma and not actual science.
2. There are fewer legitimately trained dogs, far more dogs unable to lead lifestyles not akin to ‘house-arrest’ and far more re-homing and euthanasia.
I recently updated this article, adding three more options for a total of seven. You can find the updated article here:
John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
Embracing Science and Common Sense