Q. I have a very aggressive, undisciplined Labrador Retriever mix. My parents want to euthanize the dog, but I think he can be rehabilitated. He has bitten at least three people, which so far has not resulted in a lawsuit or an order to put him down. I would like to know if there is a possibility this dog could have his aggression “trained” out of him over time.
He is about three years old, and has had some formal training so he is good in the house. He does show aggression in the house but it is mild and I think he’s being territorial. Outside of the house when he is off leash (we live in the country with a few neighboring houses) is when he is liable to bite someone. He charges full speed at anything that moves, including humans. He is a natural hunter but he also has a lot of aggression and speed, which is a lethal combination. If you have experience with this type of dog and could tell me if there is hope if he is put on the right program, I would appreciate it.
A. He’s fast, aggressive and has already bitten three people, yet you’re still letting him out without a leash or fence. This is dangerous and irresponsible. If you hope to keep your dog alive and keep other people from being harmed you must never let him run loose. Additionally, the aggression he shows in your home — whether toward friends or family members — is a serious problem that requires behavioral control and careful management.
You need to take your dog to your veterinarian as soon as possible for a thorough examination and health work-up, to discover or rule out physical causes for his aggressive behavior. Ask your vet to refer you to a board certified veterinary behaviorist who can assess your dog in person, work with him using skillful behavior modification, and prescribe appropriate medication if necessary.