Option 1 – Do Nothing
Option 2 – Prevention without training
Option 3 – Training with prevention
Option 4 – Medication
Option 5 – Re-home The Dog
Option 6 – To Have The Dog Put Down
Regardless of which option or set of options an owner chooses, it is important to know there is not necessarily a right or wrong decision. Owners need to make the best decision based on what is happening in their lives as each situation differs.
Doing nothing does not resolve the issue and it would be fair to say living with a dog that has these problems can be stressful and harm the relationship. It can also be expensive if the dog is doing any type of damage or poses a liability for the owner. When an owner does nothing, there is a reasonable chance that the behavior problem will get worse. The problem rarely stays the same or get better because there is a reason the dog is doing the behavior.
Prevention without training
Many owners choose to control the environment to such an extent that the dog never has an opportunity to get misbehave. For example with a dog that has aggression issues to strange dogs, the owner might never take the dog on a walk. If the dog is destructive when the owner is not home, the dog may be crated. Prevention ensures the behavior problem will not be displayed as long as these measures are in place. If the dog never gets upset, the behavior most likely wont get worse, but it also won’t get better unless the owner also does some training. When a person chooses prevention without training, there will be mistakes or times in which prevention cannot be implemented. At these times the dog will become display the undesirable behavior.
Training plus prevention
Successful training involves prevention as the learning is taking place. Training the dog involves giving the dog different associations than what it presently has and preventing it from practicing the inappropriate behavior. Training can be accomplished through group classes, private classes, leaning from books or videos. Once training has been completed, the owner only needs to maintain the new associations and prevention is no longer necessary.
There are times in which even with a rigorous training program, placing the dog into a new home is the best option. This might be the best option under circumstances in which quality of life or safety for the dog or the people could be immediately improved. This is assuming that the new home does not offer the same set of circumstances that compromises quality of life or safety. An example would be if a dog were aggressive to children living within the house. Sometimes the dog will be happier living in a home without children. When a person places their dog into a new home, they need to make sure the potential owner not only has a clear idea as to the dog’s problems, but also has an idea as to what it is like to live with such a dog. To do anything less than this is unethical. If aggression issues are the problem, re-homing the dog does not decrease the first owner’s liability even if there is a full written disclosure of the problem.
Some dogs have such high degrees of stress that prescription medications can bring results sooner if training is implemented. Keep in mind that medication does not resolve these issues; they just help make the process easier. It is best if these medications are prescribed by a veterinary behaviorist as they have a more in-depth knowledge of which medication would be best.
Putting The Dog Down
Sometimes, the best option for the circumstances does involve putting the dog down. Most people do not take this decision lightly, but in cases in which a dog simply is not safe or training will not be effective and quality of life will be compromised, this will be the only option. Because this is an emotionally wrenching experience for most owners, it is best that the owner speaks with multiple certified professional dog trainers and veterinarians in order to make the best decision. It is important that when the owner takes this step that they know they seriously looked at all the options and feel they made the best choose.
The Best Option
Regardless of the type of issue, each owner does have options for problem behavior but there are only six options to choose from. They can do nothing, control the environment to an extent that the problem does not exist, train the dog, use medication to reduce stress while implementing training, re-home the dog or have the dog put down. As an owner considers the options available they need to think about whether the quality of life or safety of the dog, the people involved or others will be compromised to an extent that an option should be ruled out. Speaking with multiple certified professional dog trainers and veterinarians may be helpful in the decision making process.