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My 29 lb whippet/dashchund mix is a love, but has severe anxiety which manifests itself in aggression. She warms up to people quickly and has a good relationship with my family members, but does not get along well with cats and dogs. To make a long story short, I am seriously thinking of surrendering her. I work full time and I do not have the time and energy to give her the training and attention she needs. I currently work with a trainer and am using the techniques she told me to use with my dog. I’m seeing some improvement. I wish I had more time for my dog because I love her to pieces. That being said, I have called shelters, fosters and sanctuaries to see if they have a place for her. I’m on a couple waiting lists, but I feel as though no one will foster her or adopt her due to her fear aggression. She nipped my brother in law on the toe because he seemed like a threat to me and my dog did not like this. I suppose I just want to know if rehoming is even an option so that I can figure out a way to help her and devote more time. Yes, I have been told that I should euthanize her by a vet, but this is NOT an option for me. My heart won’t allow it.
 

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You won't be doing her any favor if you rehome her. She'll be happier with you, even if you work full time, than with a stranger. I have an anxious dog as well, and it would never occur to me to rehome her, because she'd be happier dead than with someone else than me.
 

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Most rescues and shelters do not want the liability of a dog like this. Her behavior is likely genetic and likely to be an issue for her life.

She has has bitten. She did not see your BIL as a threat to YOU. She saw your BIL as a threat to HER. The reaction you describe is a fearful nervy dog that was in fight or flight mode. A dog like this is unstable. She is a liability based on what you have said here. Her next bite will be more serious. The behavior escalates as the dog learns that biting gets people to back off and go away. If you are in the US this is a dog that could give you a lawsuit and a ton of financial responsibility. The first bite that is reported often leaves the owner with no home owners insurance if they do not euthanize the dog.

People are correct. Euthanize is actually the kindest option. You are trying to work through this. You admit you do not have time. If you end up rehoming her the new person may be less willing to work through the issues or may get bitten. The dog ends up abused or euthanized anyway.
 

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agree that another place may not be as patient with your pup and they may not have the same ideas of what training you would consider appropriate or humane. I have had butt head dogs, that I adored , there were certain things in their youth that they could not agree with and all I had to do was not put them in situations they didn't do well in. Since they didn't like the situations, me setting up a safe area for them during those situations they were happy well behaved dogs and they learned by doing that they were ok in those situations. Constantly putting a dog into situations they don't do well in that ends up not well, makes it worse not better. I support continued training, doing training in a controlled environment where positive outcome at the dogs level can be controlled in a positive direction. Random situations (real life) with real untrained Humans you can't control it, so your not helping the time and money your spending on training in a controlled environment when the dog isn't ready to apply what they are learning in real life.

I've known lots of people who kept their dog home and out of public situations, put up when people were at their house. and loved, and live full lives with their dogs into elderly age. they wouldn't of changed a thing to have that time with that dog. Growing up I knew dogs and cats at other peoples houses that didn't like company. My uncle had Chi's that didn't like anyone and didn't like the family reunions he brought them too. and we all know not to bother them. It's nothing odd to me or has to be fixed when I come across pets that don't care for anything outside their home or their own family. Your animals are personal to you, good life is about being loved , cared for and a sense of well being.. Nothing to do with manic adventures and being worldly in everything. I don't know why society has set the animals up for so much failure ..
 

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Euthanasia is the safest course of action. Next is management. You are responsible for this dog and her actions so you make sure she is never again put into a situation where she feels she needs to bite and you make it physically impossible for her to do so.

Making sure she never becomes agressive means keeping a physical barrier between her and anybody she might be scared off by putting her in another room, using child gates between rooms or crating her when you have visitors. It is also a good idea to block the dog from direct access to your front door so she cannot 'greet' visitors. She should also be muzzled in public to keep ignorant people from suddenly trying to touch her. I have had people suddenly put a hand out to touch my dogs as we were passing each other in the street or children throw their arms around a dog's neck unexpectedly. You will need to train her to the use of a crate and of a muzzle otherwise she will see them as a punishment and be upset by them, not what you want. There are quite a few good videos on youtube about teaching this.

With these measures in place at all times (without any exceptions!) you and your dog may learn to lead a more relaxed life within the limits imposed by her temperament. It is a huge lifetime commitment and not many people are disciplined enough to implement it at all times forever. It does not preclude using a good behaviourist to help you both cope with the situation but do not expect miracles. Your main aims should be to keep everybody safe and provide as safe an environment for the dog as she needs to give her and yourself a good quality of life. If you cannot do this you owe it to yourself, the dog and other people to follow your vet's and the other posters 'advice.

I am speaking from experience and I would not wish it on anybody else. It is a huge commitment and will mean changing the way you live for the duration of the dog's life. Only you can decide. With your head, not your heart.

Ed.: cross posted with Patricia.
 

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I have a 14 year old Shih Tzu x Maltese that I got when he was a year old. He does not like strangers at all and I think has had a good life not ever being forced to like strangers. Last year I got a large Miniature Poodle that had been raised in a box stall, never socialized at all. I have worked slowly with her and she is great with me now, wags her tail and jumps and plays with me and my other dogs. I very much doubt she will ever be good with strangers. She will not bite but I still would not put her in a position where she might think she has to. If I ever could not keep either of these two dogs, I know the kindest thing to do would be to have them euthanized. Not that I think I am a better owner but my situation is perfect for them. I am retired, live by myself and seldom have visitors so the dogs can be relaxed and happy. I doubt I would ever be able to find another home like this.
 

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Have you worked with a certified behaviorist? Have you considered medication, if she is suffering from anxiety that badly?
 

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SydneyNicole's suggestions are good ones. A veterinary behaviorist - a veterinarian who is specialized in behaviour - would be a good resource if you have access to one. And anti-anxiety medication has been a huge help for my anxious girl.

What was the nip to your BIL's toe like? Did she break skin? I think that a dog with a limited bite history (i.e., one bite incident causing minimal damage), while still a liability, is rehomeable by an experienced agency, who have likely dealt with far worse cases. One additional option is to contact a rescue and offer to foster her yourself until they find a potential match for her.

But I also think that if you are set-up to keep her separated from her triggers (strangers? strange men?) then she is probably better off in a home that she knows, especially if you are able to meet her other needs, i.e., has outlets for her physical and mental energy, and gets sufficient social interaction. That may mean putting a physical barrier between her and the things she thinks are scary, like a baby gate or a closed door. It might mean she can't be out when you have friends come over, or can only be out with certain known individuals, etc. But that will probably be easier for her than learning to trust entirely new people.
 

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I agree with finding a veterinary behaviorist to help assess your dog. Regular trainers who generally teach obedience type skills are not equipped to handle anxiety or aggression cases. In fact, an ineffective trainer can make things much, much worse.

Every rescue and shelter is different but if you do go the surrender route, it is worth interviewing them as much as they would (or should) interview you. Simply taking in a dog and keeping them alive is no longer the hallmark for welfare. Imagine if a shelter took your dog in, but she spent the next 2 years living in a metal cage because no one thinks to adopt the dog lunging and barking at the gate. I would not call that a humane existence. I'm not saying all shelters operate this way. But this is a very real situation that passes as ethical sheltering. IF your dog has severe anxiety and aggression challenges and IF a reputable organization is willing to take your dog in, they should be able to tell you why they are equipped to do so beyond just basic care. Are they able to provide housing that reduces stress or do all the dogs see each other through the fence lines? Do they have any behavior modification programs, certified trainers, behavior consultants, or behaviorists on staff? What is their adoption process like, to ensure that your dog would go to a responsible and experienced home? What is the average length of stay for easily adoptable pets, let alone ones with behavior challenges? These are all very simple questions. And any shelter or rescue worth their salt should be able to help your dog be more than just alive.
 

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I'm late to respond but feel compelled to add my two-cents worth. Please note that my comments are NOT meant as a guilt trip. They are solely based on my own limited experience with a fear aggressive dog.

If you have other pets in your home, you might want to make a decision about which to keep and which to rehome because there is a good chance that one or more of them will get injured. Do know that if you surrender a fear-aggressive pet to a shelter that it may be euthanized. If you rehome a fear-aggressive pet and are not COMPLETELY up front about the details of the aggression, the dog could injure someone or become injured by a human punishing him for biting.

My dog killed a kitten that wandered into my backyard. He'd growl at everyone who knocked at the door. He became less wary of friends I allowed in my home but never really warmed up to any of them. I rarely took him off our property. He'd go with us for car rides but that was it. I worried that another dog or small child would rush up to him and get bit, or that he would see a cat or other animal run past and would jerk loose of my grip.

Oddly enough, with his people pack he was the sweetest, most gentle dog! In fact, he was the PERFECT dog as long as he was in his own home without any outside influences. We still miss him. In addition to his fear aggression, he was also epileptic. We often comment that had he found his way into another home, one with children or someone less tolerant of his quirks, he might very well have been surrendered and euthanized.
 
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