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Old 04-09-2013, 09:31 AM   #1
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Someone make me feel better, rehoming our dog :(

We are so sad right now as we are facing having to rehome our dog. We adopted Hank a few months ago. He is a treeing walker hound, so a big, strongly built guy. He is super lovable and desperately seeks love and attention. For the first few months that we've had him, he has been an amazing dog.

We had one incident the first few weeks where he growled when my FIL came in the room. He'd never met him before and it must have surprised Hank. After that, he was perfectly fine with FIL. The past week, we traveled to see my parents as my dad is having chemo and radiation treatments and we wanted to go up to help out while our son had school break. We brought Hank with us as we didn't want to board him since he's been in so many shelters before we rescued him. The first couple days were fine. Then we had another strange incident where he growled at my dad who was just standing in the kitchen not doing anything. I realized both times he growled at my FIL and my dad, I was standing on the other side of the room in a corner, so it's possible he thought he was protecting me. Either way, no excuses, it was not okay at all.

Later that night, he suddenly started growling at my 5 year old. First when we were getting in the car to go back to the hotel, then when my husband was walking the dog and my 5 year old walked over. By this point, we assumed the dog must be sick or something as this was so out of character for him. Part of the reason why we adopted him was that he didn't bother with the kids, we didn't want a jumpy dog. Looking back, now I think the distance from the kids was Hank's way of showing us he didn't like being around kids and we misunderstood it for him being tolerant to kids. We agreed that the next morning we'd bring him to the vet. So, 7am the next morning, we are in bed at the hotel, my 5 year old gets up to go to the bathroom. My husband was already up. The dog charges at my son growling at him and nicked his face with his tooth. We are incredibly lucky that was all.

Hank also stopped eating that day. We brought him to the emergency vet (we were out of town and it was a saturday) where he ate food and he got a clean bill of health. The vet thinks it possibly could have been the stress of traveling.

Typing this out is making me more okay with rehoming him, but we still feel guilty. We've already spoken with the rescue we adopted him from so they can help find him a new home. The person who runs the rescue is trying to convince us to work with a behavioral specialist, which is making me feel more guilty. The rescue also posted on their facebook wall about needing a foster for Hank, so more guilt (but conveniently left out the part where he wants to eat our child, which is making me wonder if they knew about this potential aggression all along). I really don't want to risk my child getting hurt and that is the thing with this kind of aggression, it is hard to treat. I love this dog, but it's just not worth my child's safety.

I mostly feel awful for my husband. His parents wouldn't let him have any pets growing up, so this was his first dog. Yes we had the dog for 4 months, but my husband waited 25 years, kwim? We are definitely going to rehome him, but the guilt is still there. :/

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Old 04-09-2013, 09:38 AM   #2
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Re: Someone make me feel better, rehoming our dog :(

Sounds like Hank needs a home where he can not be around young children. He also needs a behavioral specialist who can work on the issues he seems to have with men. He must see your DH as one of the pack, but might not like other men. I wonder if he was abused.
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Old 04-09-2013, 10:00 AM   #3
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Re: Someone make me feel better, rehoming our dog :(

Don't feel guilty. It is for the best for your family.
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Old 04-09-2013, 10:34 AM   #4
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Re: Someone make me feel better, rehoming our dog :(

I've worked with dogs professionally with dogs for ~8 years. I'm a huge advocate for dogs, and I think a lot are rehomed for absolutely absurd reasons that make me sick. I'm a Great Dane enthusiast and I've literally fostered dogs who were dumped because they got "too big" as if the people had no idea they were getting a GIANT breed to begin with.
That said, I think you're making the right decision. I'm absolutely positive that the stress of traveling came into play here, and I'm positive that there was some kind of trigger to the behavior, but not knowing Hank's past or every single little detail of the environment it's impossible to guess what that trigger is.
He can be worked with, and likely be a very sound family companion, but it makes me sick when people put their children at risk to work with a dog who has proven to be a danger to kids. Find Hank a great kid-free home with people who are able to use positive reinforcement and confidence-building training to make him more secure in his surroundings WITHOUT putting any little ones at risk.

Hugs to you, I know it's tough... pets quickly become family, but I firmly believe you're making the right decision.
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Old 04-09-2013, 11:17 AM   #5
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You are making the right decision.
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Old 04-09-2013, 11:27 AM   #6
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Re: Someone make me feel better, rehoming our dog :(

You've made the right decision to keep your family safe. I've had to rehome a cat because she was a hell cat who was easily stressed, incredibly unpredictable, and agressive. She would scratch and bite if you looked at her wrong. I was so guilt ridden when I sent her away, but our lives are much less stressfull since she's been gone. My other cat is happy and no ones been bitten since she's left. I don't regret my decision at all.
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Old 04-09-2013, 11:38 AM   #7
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Re: Someone make me feel better, rehoming our dog :(

Thank you ladies, I know this is the right decision and you all are confirming it for me. It's crazy how fast you can fall in love with an animal. Hopefully the rescue finds a foster for him quickly. At this point we are keeping Hank gated off in a separate room from my son. We are trying to avoid bringing him to a shelter because I truly want him to find a new home. It's moments like these that make being a pet owner really suck. I think we will wait a few months and then hopefully look for another dog that will be right for our family.
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Old 04-09-2013, 11:38 AM   #8
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Re: Someone make me feel better, rehoming our dog :(

So sorry mama. I had to put my 11 year old dog to sleep this fall to protect my kids and it was hard. But my kids have to come before my beloved pet. She is dog agreessive, but had never hurt anyone til this fall. My son hurt her and she snapped at him and broke skin on his face. Since I have 6, 4, and 2 year olds, I couldn't guarentee it wouldn't happen again. Keeping her away from the kids was not a realistic option.

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Old 04-09-2013, 12:27 PM   #9
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Re: Someone make me feel better, rehoming our dog :(

tough decision, but I agree with it, too. Both your family & he will get to have a better life going forward.
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Old 04-09-2013, 12:56 PM   #10
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Re: Someone make me feel better, rehoming our dog :(

I am sorry but you are making the right decision. If he growled a little at a child that took a toy out of his mouth or pulled his tail I would say give it time and work with both of them, same with the growling at strange men thing (they may be familiar to you but they are not to him). I would be certain to return him to the rescue and put my foot down about having his child aggression listed. It is not fair to him or to any future family to put him in this type of situation. He would probably be perfectly fine with a family without children.

I know how hard this can be but you should not feel guilty. I've done rescue most of my life and have heard some really bad reasons for giving up a dog or cat (I got a new puppy and they don't get along-seriously, you gave up the 7 year old dog for the new puppy). This kind of aggression is a safety risk and should have been disclosed to you from the beginning. I had to give up a Shiba mix we took in as a rescue when she became aggressive with my youngest (he was a toddler at the time). She had a high prey drive and became very guarded about my affection. If he walked into the room I was in she would growl. I called a behaviorist friend of mine and he told me he didn't feel it was safe to keep her or that we could fix it. The last straw was when she went after my oldest. She only jumped at him and tried to push him away from me but it scared him and Duke had to knock her down to get her away from him. It really broke my heart to rehome her as she was "my dog". She was very independent and clean but she would cuddle with me at night or on the couch. I still miss her but I know I had to do it for the safety of my kids.
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