Your Dog Is Showing Signs Of Aggression Should You Keep Her

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Your Dog Is Showing Signs Of Aggression Should You Keep Her

by Kirsten Frisch

Everything has been going well, aside from a few squabbles at the dog park. Misty, your alaskan husky, was the shy dog at the shelter. She played with the other puppies, and did not appear to act out any more dramatically than the other pups. You adopted her and brought her home. It has been almost a year. Now, it seems when she is around other dogs she is not playing anymore. She acts out and is starting to not back down. She is showing her teeth at family members, and you are starting to get worried.

What should you do? Keep her? Take her back to the shelter?

The first question many people ask is What did I do wrong? Sometimes the answer is Nothing! You will, of course, hear blame. What many people do not realize is that a puppy can be imprinted early on. Most shelters do not adopt puppies out until they are 8 weeks old (if they do it earlier run...don't walk, far away from that shelter). They wait this long for behavior reasons. One thing a shelter cannot control is the history of the puppy or the parents of the puppy. There may have been aggression in the genetics.

What? I thought aggression was just in breeds like pitbulls and german shepherds? Nope, any breed can have aggression in its history. Not just poorly bred dogs, but accidental litters between two dogs who may have aggression issues. Even working dogs bred for a specific task can have aggressive tendencies. The breeder may not care about aggression if aggression does not interfere with the task they are bred to do. This can even be true in hunting and sled dogs.

You may have made mistakes with your dog. Some of those mistakes may have brought out aggression. Now you need solutions for those mistakes, not blame. Before you look for solutions ask yourself Are you ready to do what it takes to care for a dog with aggression?

This is a valid question. Owning a dog with aggressive tendencies is a huge responsibility. Everything becomes harder when the dog has aggression, and there is no room for a mistake. You will not be able to take your dog places the average dog owner goes. Dog parks will be out for sure. Dog daycares do not allow aggressive dogs, most kennels will not take aggressive dogs, your dog sitter will have to be ultra responsible, and you might not find one willing to take the risk. You will have to sit down and seriously consider if you are willing to change your life for the dog. Make this choice before something happens. Before your dog gets into a fight, before your dog bites.

You will get flack if you choose to get rid of your dog. Opposing viewpoints will tell you that you created this dog aggression so you will be morally required to live with it. I'm here to tell you the only moral obligation you have, is to choose. You either choose to take on the responsibility or you don't. Yes, taking on a dog is a commitment and hopefully a life long commitment, but under what circumstances? Unless you are a canine behavior expert and enjoy spending your life dog training, owning a dog with aggression is not fun. And it is not fun for the dog to live like that either. More often than not an aggressive dogs slips further and further into isolation because they cannot be trusted to go anywhere.

This is not to say do not try solving your aggressive dog issue, but solving aggressive issues is a serious commitment . Some aggression can be modified, but you will never completely modify dog aggression. You may even end up always having a muzzle on your dog in public. Are you willing to do this?

Yes, if you take your dog back to the shelter you will be talking euthanasia. I do not take this choice lightly, but no one does. If you (or the shelter) come to the choice of euthanizing your dog because of aggression, know that many people consider this choice responsible. People who have had dogs attacked or killed by aggressive dogs. People who have had children bitten by aggressive dogs. And shelter workers who euthanize healthy, non-aggressive, family friendly dogs everyday.

Kirsten Frisch has worked with sled dogs for over 8 years. She has handled dogs in Alaska for mid and long distance races such as the Copper Basin 300 and Yukon Quest 1000 mile race. Her background also includes Veterinary Technician, sled dog rescue and foster, artist, and traveller. You can learn more about Kirsten and sled dogs at

Kirsten Frisch - EzineArticles Expert Author

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