Discovered my Rescue Dog's Secret Past! What does it mean for the future?
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Thread: Discovered my Rescue Dog's Secret Past! What does it mean for the future?

  1. #1
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    Discovered my Rescue Dog's Secret Past! What does it mean for the future?

    Hello Everyone,

    I'm new to this forum but needed some advice/words of wisdom

    About 10 months ago we adopted a 10 month old Great Dane mix (we thought he was 2.5 years at the time). He's been the most wonderful pet we could have hoped for, very loving, gentle, well-behaved, etc. We absolutely ADORE him!

    We were always curious why someone would have given him up, so I started doing some research and eventually traced him back to the original shelter he was transported to our state from, and finally to his original owner! She was very kind and so happy to hear he had found a great home and answered many of the questions we had. She confirmed he was a lot younger than what the Humane Society had told us as well.

    Now here's the surprising part. The previous owner lives on a family farm which is next to another family member's farm. To make a long story short, she said that despite what a great dog he was with children, their other dogs, some of the farm animals,etc. they had to let him go because he got out into the fields and killed one of their sheep! We were shocked, as we live in the city and that is one reason we never thought of. Apparently, once that happens, the dogs are put down unless they are able to re-home them, which in farm country can be extremely difficult.

    Needless to say, I researched the subject of dogs killing sheep online, and after reading so many posts basically saying that a dog that does this is a "lost" dog and should be put down, it's been very depressing. We LOVE our fur baby so much it's hard to read those comments and we would never even think of giving him away, etc.. Yes, we know dogs are predators and sheep are prey, and the same thing could happen with many dogs put in that situation, but you don't imagine your lovable, cuddly family member in that type of situation. Since we live in the city and are NEVER around sheep, I don't foresee this to be an issue, even though the naysayers online have made me paranoid it could happen with another animal!

    Has anyone had an experience like this, or know of similar situations? Thanks for listening to my vent. Look forward to your thoughts.

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    Super Moderator RonE's Avatar
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    Re: Discovered my Rescue Dog's Secret Past! What does it mean for the future?

    I don't see a problem if you don't have sheep.

    We had a great dog for 13 years that recognized only three classes of animals: Human, canine and prey. She was fine with the first two but would kill anything else she could catch. I just made sure she never had the opportunity to catch a cat or any other domestic animals.

    Unfortunate wild animals who ventured into our yard were on their own.

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    Senior Member Lillith's Avatar
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    Re: Discovered my Rescue Dog's Secret Past! What does it mean for the future?

    It's not really a problem unless you have sheep. Some dogs just kill things that aren't dogs or humans. I mean, Great Danes were originally bred to hunt boar, so a sheep isn't that far off! You can't blame the dog for doing what it was made to do. And who knows what other breeds were mixed in there. A home where there is no chance the dog will see livestock is probably ideal.

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    Re: Discovered my Rescue Dog's Secret Past! What does it mean for the future?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lillith View Post
    It's not really a problem unless you have sheep. Some dogs just kill things that aren't dogs or humans. I mean, Great Danes were originally bred to hunt boar, so a sheep isn't that far off! You can't blame the dog for doing what it was made to do. And who knows what other breeds were mixed in there. A home where there is no chance the dog will see livestock is probably ideal.
    Thanks for your input. I definitely don't blame him! We actually had his DNA tested and it shows he's 75% Great Dane, 13% Staffordshire terrier, 7%Dalmation and 5% American bulldog! :-)

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    Re: Discovered my Rescue Dog's Secret Past! What does it mean for the future?

    Quote Originally Posted by RonE View Post
    I don't see a problem if you don't have sheep.

    We had a great dog for 13 years that recognized only three classes of animals: Human, canine and prey. She was fine with the first two but would kill anything else she could catch. I just made sure she never had the opportunity to catch a cat or any other domestic animals.

    Unfortunate wild animals who ventured into our yard were on their own.
    Thank you. I'm getting the feeling our pup recognizes those exact same classes!

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    Senior Member Canyx's Avatar
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    Re: Discovered my Rescue Dog's Secret Past! What does it mean for the future?

    It's not a problem if you don't have sheep. And you can also train him to ignore sheep, or simply keep him on a leash around sheep, if that ever becomes an issue.
    Soro - 4.22.06 - retriever/X
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    Re: Discovered my Rescue Dog's Secret Past! What does it mean for the future?

    Quote Originally Posted by Canyx View Post
    It's not a problem if you don't have sheep. And you can also train him to ignore sheep, or simply keep him on a leash around sheep, if that ever becomes an issue.
    Thanks. It's just disheartening when you read the comments from people who swear by the "once they taste blood" mantra, and even brag about shooting them!

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    Super Moderator RonE's Avatar
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    Re: Discovered my Rescue Dog's Secret Past! What does it mean for the future?

    Quote Originally Posted by CanidBoy View Post
    Thanks. It's just disheartening when you read the comments from people who swear by the "once they taste blood" mantra, and even brag about shooting them!
    If you ever read that on this forum, be sure and report the post to the moderators.

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    Senior Member Canyx's Avatar
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    Re: Discovered my Rescue Dog's Secret Past! What does it mean for the future?

    I think the truth in that is once a dog has practiced chasing, killing, consuming, biting, etc... There is always the chance it will happen again *under the same circumstances*. For example, a dog that has chased and killed deer will likely continue to try chasing and killing deer. But it doesn't mean the dog will by default chase and kill a cat (though it may). A dog that bit a person over a bone does not necessarily mean the dog is at risk for biting people in other situations.

    So if your dog has killed sheep in the past, if left unsupervised with sheep it may practice the same behavior. BUT, it doesn't mean your dog will go berserk with bloodlust the moment it is around sheep or other animals. I have met plenty of dogs who will harm other animals or have a history of hunting them, but can be fine around them with supervision, or on leash. There are dogs who can live in a house with cats cuddling with them, but those same dogs can chase and kill a cat in the neighborhood.

    Point being, it's not black and white. Context is important, as is movement of the prey animal. I wouldn't trust your dog loose around sheep and I wouldn't deliberately test your dog with sheep. But your dog is not a bloodthirsty monster out to kill...
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    Re: Discovered my Rescue Dog's Secret Past! What does it mean for the future?

    Quote Originally Posted by Canyx View Post
    I think the truth in that is once a dog has practiced chasing, killing, consuming, biting, etc... There is always the chance it will happen again *under the same circumstances*. For example, a dog that has chased and killed deer will likely continue to try chasing and killing deer. But it doesn't mean the dog will by default chase and kill a cat (though it may). A dog that bit a person over a bone does not necessarily mean the dog is at risk for biting people in other situations.

    So if your dog has killed sheep in the past, if left unsupervised with sheep it may practice the same behavior. BUT, it doesn't mean your dog will go berserk with bloodlust the moment it is around sheep or other animals. I have met plenty of dogs who will harm other animals or have a history of hunting them, but can be fine around them with supervision, or on leash. There are dogs who can live in a house with cats cuddling with them, but those same dogs can chase and kill a cat in the neighborhood.

    Point being, it's not black and white. Context is important, as is movement of the prey animal. I wouldn't trust your dog loose around sheep and I wouldn't deliberately test your dog with sheep. But your dog is not a bloodthirsty monster out to kill...
    This all makes perfect sense and we definitely don't intend to bring him around sheep any time soon!

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    Senior Member LeoRose's Avatar
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    Re: Discovered my Rescue Dog's Secret Past! What does it mean for the future?

    A farmer's or rancher's livelihood depends on their animals. Dogs who harass, worry, or kill livestock and/or poultry simply can't be tolerated. So, yes, the sad fact is that many dogs who have developed the habit are killed (either shot in the act, or else euthanized) or rehomed out of the area.

    As others have said, the incident is only a concern if you ever let him be around sheep or other livestock. And now that you know what happened, you can use the information to make sure that he is kept away from livestock, unless he is leashed and/or you are working on counter conditioning and desensitization with an experienced trainer.
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    Senior Member Jen2010's Avatar
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    Re: Discovered my Rescue Dog's Secret Past! What does it mean for the future?

    I agree with the others too. Just keep him away from or on leash around livestock (or other smaller animals if you're concerned) and he will probably be fine. A lot of dogs kill other animals, it doesn't make them bad dogs, but it is something that's good to be aware of.
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