This will be a very stressful time for you if you have been told behavioural euthanasia is your only option, and I want you to know that there are some situations in which this IS the only real/safe/viable option.
But not as often as people are being told that it is.
If your dog is suffering? Is he or she in pain that is inescapable? Ending a dogs suffering is a way of giving our best friends relief, this is the meaning of Euthanasia. But if the problem is behavioural, ask yourself the question, “is my dog suffering, is my dog in pain?”
We are seeing a lot of owners being told, by vets, that the only choice for their dog is Behavioural Euthanasia. This is often when behaviour problems have not resolved by medicating their dog only.
Let’s get some facts out here first.
- Medicating a dog with behaviour problems is sometimes necessary but I believe it needs to be prescribed with careful diagnosis and in combination with therapy. Therapy equals training.
- Many dogs that are displaying behaviour problems such as predation cannot be euthanised. The reason is that euthanasia is about ending the subject’s life to end suffering. These dogs are not suffering when displaying this behaviour.
- Medicating a dog displaying a behaviour such as aggression will never teach the dog “how to” behave.
We are seeing so many dogs that have been medicated, then when their behaviour did not improve, dose increased.
Then when the behaviour didn’t improve a second medication added and at times a third.
Prozac, trazadone, catapres, gabapentin and others.
After a year or more of this and being told things such as their dog has brain damage, is autistic, has chemical imbalances and other unproven diagnosis they are advised to euthanise their dog.
What a heartbreaking thing to hear when you have been following what you believe to be professional advice.
Well, many people have not accepted this last piece of advice that Behavioural Euthanasia is the only option and they have ended up coming to see me.
Unlike the previous help they have sought, I actually take the dog on leash and work with the dog.
I listen to the owner and look at what behaviours the dog has and begin forming a plan.
A life is saved, there is some work to do but we are on our way.
It takes a hell of a strong owner to keep pushing on with dogs like this especially after being told by a trusted professional there is no way to resolve this problem behaviour.
Before writing any more on this topic, this is far from a criticism of any dog owner that has medicated their dog or euthanised their dog.
I am not talking about, or criticising you or your decisions.
Nor am I saying your dog does not need medication, I am not a vet and if I have not worked with your dog, I have no place making any judgement.
I am simply trying to let people know, people that are struggling with their dog’s behaviour, and they have been advised to medicate or euthanise, that there are options other than these.
Serious dog behaviour problems can be deeply rooted in a dog’s relationship with the owner, but if you are willing to do what is needed, very few dogs are beyond help.
Things can feel hopeless but you’re not helpless.
We work with people who are in crisis often. We have turned so many untenable situations into very happy endings.
There is help and there is hope.