Chris Shaughness

author, speaker, animal lover

Behavior Problems,  All Articles

We’ve Tried Everything

One of the most heartbreaking aspects of my job is when a client tells me that everything we’ve tried still has not helped to improve the behavior of their pet. Sadly, sometimes the best option is to surrender the pet. I used to be very judgmental of people who ‘gave up’ on their pets. Years of experience now has shown me that sometimes circumstances really do require that the pet be surrendered. It may be the best thing for the family and for the pet. The decision to give up a pet may be dictated by any number of factors.

First and foremost is safety. Are any of the family members in danger of being harmed? To illustrate, I have many clients who live with several dogs. We can never assume that dogs will always like each other and fights may erupt, often with serious consequences. Sometimes dog fights can result in serious injury or even death to one of the dogs. If someone tries to break up the fight, one dog may accidentally bite that person. It’s called redirected aggression (see the article below). Some people are successfully able to manage keeping dogs apart and avoiding any triggers that instigate fights, but others may not have the ability to manage the situation.

My dog, Gizzy, is another great example. He lived with a family who did not supervise him and the children. The kids teased and hurt Gizzy. Predictably, he started to growl at them. The family hired a professional to help them but the damage was irreparable. Gizzy has a lasting distrust of children, even with all of the work I’ve done with him. His first family did the right thing by surrendering him to the rescue (even though they should had been more responsible by supervising the children – but that’s another subject!).

Others factors in surrendering a pet can be the family’s inability to consistently give the pet the necessary attention to correct the behavior problem. Some people purchase or adopt dogs who require a great deal of physical exercise or need to have lots of mental stimulation, but the people just can’t provide the time. In today’s world, many of us are juggling multiple priorities and life can be hectic. While it’s true that the decision to own a pet should not be taken lightly, sometimes the quality of life of the pet may be better if he or she lived with another family.

When the decision is finally made, it is so important that the proper place is found to surrender the pet. The best options are for the family to find another home for the pet by word of mouth, or to look for reputable rescue organizations. Most rescue organizations will take special care to place the pet in the home that is best suited given the pet’s issues. Unfortunately, a municipal animal shelter is not the best choice. The large majority of pets in SPCAs and humane societies must be euthanized due to space limitations and health or behavior problems of the pets.