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Dr. Loretta
Dr. Loretta, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 28341
Experience:  25 years of experience in surgery and internal medicine.
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We rescued a Brittany Spaniel about a year and a half

Customer Question

We rescued a Brittany Spaniel about a year and a half ago. Jack was 6 months old and the product of a bad puppy farm situation. He has always had anxiety/fearful issues, he spins in circles a lot) We have to crate him when he's alone in the house because he gets stressed when left in a large space. We never leave him long and he always gets a 2 hour daily walk in a secluded area. He loves my husband and I and is wonderful with us. He adores other dogs and socialised very well with dogs. However over the last year he had become increasingly reactive to people. This first started in our home when my mother visited for the first time. He nipped the back of her leg when she went upstairs. If anyone new comes in the house he barks and sometimes tries to nip them or I imagine worse. He bit a friend of ours in the leg one night. Not severe, but there was a big bruise. On lead if he is surprised he will lunge at the person (biker,bag holder) He gets along with all dogs. Not an ounce of aggression towards dogs. But he is fearful of certain strangers in his space and then turns aggressive. I've been trying to manage this behaviour with a behaviourist/trainer for just under a year now. It's been exhausting always managing his connections with people but I always felt it was worth it because of the love he showed his trusted humans. I wanted so badly to give him a safe loving home. After all he's been through. However the other day he was playing in his usual doggie daycare and a dog owner was paying at the counter when Jack barked, jumped the gate and bit the woman 3 times. She is okay and didn't press charges but there was blood and teeth marks. I couldn't believe the photos. I'm so tearful and ashamed as I write this. I guess I'm starting to consider what to do with Jack. He needs exercise and more and more I don't trust anyone with him in case he acts out and we can hardly have people in the house unless I crate him. Which is fine, but I'm worrying about that one potential accident or day he gets out the door...and I just miss catching him before he bites the neighbor for instance. He would never do well back in a shelter, I don't know who would take him to be honest with all his quirks ( shadow chasing, anxieties and now add biting to the list). My husband and I love him so much but I feel overwhelmed and burnt out. He can't even go to daycare anymore to enjoy his doggie friends. The daycare owner was sad too as she loves Jack and he has z great time with the dogs. But. He stacked someone. I guess I'm just starting to investigate what it would mean to put Jack down. I can't believe I'm even saying it. I'm making a vet appointment this week. But my heart and head are spinning and I wondered if you had any immediate thoughts or advice. I know there is no 'right' answer. I feel guilty and like I've let Jack down by even considering the possibility. Do you think this is an appropriate reason to consider euthanising? What would you suggest?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Loretta replied 2 years ago.
Good Morning and welcome! I am Dr. Loretta, a licensed veterinarian and I am happy to answer your question. I feel so bad for you! Jack does seem to be , in general, a very good dog with underlying issues that have become aggressive due to severe anxiety. Since you have already exhausted the trainers and behaviorists, medication is your only choice now. Take Jack back to your vet for a complete exam with xrays and lab work to eb sure there is not a hormonal or metabolic or pain issue that is causing this aggression. If this has been ruled out , the next step is medication. I have used a combination of Fluoxetine and Xanax, an anti anxiety medication to calm Jack down. Purchase a DAP Colar at the pet store and, along with the medication and another course at a good obedience school, Jack may become more docile. It is true that there are cases that we have no choice but to euthanize a dog that is a risk to family members and others but with Jack, there is still hope using the correct medication that , after training, can be weaned off. All you can do is try for your sweet guy, Jack. Does that make sense to you? Please let me know if you have ANY other questions. My goal is to give you 100% satisfaction and if you are not yet satisfied, please REPLY so I can clarify for you. Sincerely, ***** *****