This weekend I did a phone consultation with a family with an aggressive Rottweiler. In addition to being very aggressive with strangers, he also shows aggressive behavior toward his human family. He will not let anyone handle him, resource guards just about everything, and cannot safely be taken to the vet.
I learned that the dog is eight years old and when asked how long the dog has been exhibiting the aggression, I was told for pretty much his entire life. For eight years his aggression has been slowly escalating and they have been living a life of constant management of it.
Recently, the dog was diagnosed with Diabetes which requires them to give insulin shots to him twice a day. When they attempted to give him the shots he reacted aggressively toward them. Without the insulin he will get weak and eventually die. That’s when they called me.
I did my best to give them some suggestions on how to best give the shots with some kind of safety, as well as how to work on changing his reactive behavior, but I didn’t have much confidence that it would be successful.
Early on Sunday, I emailed them inquiring on how things were going. The response I got was disheartening but not unexpected. They attempted to give him his injection but were unable to do it safely. Without the insulin, the dog got gradually weaker and they had to make the hard decision to put him down.
Eight years ago this aggression began, was unaddressed and continued to escalate. This did not have to end up way. Some of you may be quick to judge this family and wonder how could they have let it come to this? How could they not have done something about the aggression long ago? These questions seem reasonable but these were not bad people who didn’t care about their dog. They are like so many dog owners out there that either don’t see the issues with their dog realistically, or assume that they will get better without taking steps to correct them. It’s more common than you think.
The time to fix the issues with your dog is right now. Waiting and hoping they will improve will rarely do anything but make the rehabilitation harder and more time consuming. It’s all a numbers game. The longer your dog has been doing a behavior, the longer it will take to change it. It is possible to improve any dog’s behavior, but if they’ve been acting a certain way for years, things are not going to change in a week or two. And the longer you wait and trickier it is to work with.
So if your own dog has some issues that are concerning you, don’t wait, hoping for the best. Get proactive and start taking the steps today to improve the situation as soon as possible. Your dog is worth it.
photo by: Adan Garcia