Have you ever put a dog to sleep other than because he was dying? My answer to that question is no! I’ve put them to sleep because they were near death but I still wasn’t thrilled with making that decision. Most people will do the humane thing when it comes to putting their beloved animal out of his misery. Then some people who are not breeders and some pet owners that I know think that that is a terrible thing that we do and no one should take the dog but God. This is a personal choice and everyone has to live with their decisions. But that’s not what this article is about. I wanted to write about those people who chose to put their animals to sleep because of other reasons.
Some people have put a dog down because of poor temperament. I think anyone who has been a breeder for any length of time will have seen the occasional dog with an undesirable temperament. There are different degrees of undesirable temperament. Some will destroy a dog that shows any sign of bad temperament. I have had a few over the years that were not always great in temperament, but I never chose to destroy them. I think the only time that I would make this painful decision is if they every tried to attack me or a loved one. This would be a dangerous dog for anyone to live with and as breeders we have the responsibility to do the right thing.
There are those breeders who feel that if the dog doesn’t turn out the way they want them to (show, breeding), then they dispose of them rather than look to place them in a pet home. If they get too old to breed anymore, then they dispose of them. Oh yes, they do exist. I know of a few of them. They will look to justify what they did, but it was due to their own laziness or “I don’t give a damn” type of attitude that they take the easy way out. Dog doesn’t turn out the way you had hoped……take to the vet and give him the needle. Putting a dog to sleep because it’s past its “prime” is just plain old cruel! Animals are not disposable……or shouldn’t be!
Some breeders have told me that they won’t tolerate bad temperament and they’ll take the dog to the vet and put them to sleep. As I said, if the dog is a threat to someone, I could understand, but if he isn’t, I would never do it. It’s like saying someone had a kid and he’s not the perfect child. He has a disagreeable personality. He’s always getting in to trouble. He doesn’t listen, etc., etc., etc. So what do you do? Do you put him to sleep? Sometimes you might feel like you’d like to, but of course, you don’t! Right about now, I can hear some of you saying, you can’t compare a dog with a child. One’s an animal and the others a human being. Well, for this writer, the animal feels every bit as much pain as the child. He has every bit as much right to his life as the child. You brought the child into the world and if you’re a breeder you brought the dog into the world.
I have heard breeders say, this is a German Shepherd Dog and he better have the ideal temperament because I won’t live with it if it doesn’t. In their minds, there is no room for error. He’s a German Shepherd and he better act like a German Shepherd. Woe to this dog if he doesn’t! Well I’m not an ideal human being and I don’t know too many ideal, flawless human beings. There are very, very, few people that I dislike. But of those few that I dislike, it’s because they are evil spirited and enjoy doing bad things to others. The dog doesn’t think like these types of people. I’ve never known an evil dog, but I have known a few evil people! I’ve known some bad dogs but most of the time, that’s due to poor genetics or a poor environment and poor training or lack of it. Many people think if the dog doesn’t have the ideal temperament than they won’t waste their time on him. Most dogs can be worked with and trained unless he’s a true wacko! A dog can be people aggressive or dog aggressive. It’s important to recognize the difference. Just because he may not like other dogs, doesn’t mean he’ll be a threat to people.
Let’s face it; we all love it when the whole litter we just bred has excellent temperament! If bred correctly, they should. However, genetics being what they are, this is not always the case. A dog with the ideal German Shepherd temperament is a joy to live with. They need a little basic training and attention and they should bring you years of enjoyment. When you do come across a dog with the less than ideal temperament, this is the type of dog that will need considerable more work. Some people are not willing to do the extra work that it may take with this type of dog.
I love watching “The Animal Planet” and “National Geography” for all the wonderful shows about animals especially the ones about dogs. I have heard some of you who have liked Cesar Millan’s "Dog Whisperer” program and others who do not agree with his training methods. I’m far from being an obedience expert, but I love his program. The breeder that I interviewed here on this blog over a week ago, Dawn Restuccia (Laxfield German Shepherds) attended one of his training lectures and she raved about it. I’ve question him saying that no dog is too much for him to handle. Can that be possible? Then just last night I was watching a program that I taped on Animal Planet about a young female Pit Bull Terrier that was traumatized and fearful of everyone and everything. She had absolutely little contact with the outside world. But it showed how this sweet natured little girl with training and positive reinforcement and running and playing with the other dogs brought her out of her shell. She loved being with other dogs because her mother was the only contact she had ever had in her young life.
So I guess what I’m saying is, each case is certainly an individual thing. But I am so against those people who never give a dog a chance, who never take the time to socialize the animal, who never train the dog and turn around and put him to sleep because the animal would have taken too much time and work! Some children take more work than their brothers and sisters. They present us with a tougher challenge, but we don’t give up on them because of it.
With the “sue happy” society that we live in and finding it harder to get home insurance when you own an “aggressive or dangerous” breed, owning a less than desirable tempered animal can prove to be too much for some people. If you decide to breed, realize that you may get the one puppy that is not displaying the happy “wagging tail friendly” traits of his litter mates. His momma and daddy weren’t running down the street one day and they decided to mate. No, we took it upon ourselves to breed the “ideal” litter. The decision to bring these little guys in to the world was made by us. If we are not willing to take responsibility for the type of animals we bring into this world, then we shouldn’t be breeding. We won’t always produce great temperament in every single puppy that is born in our households. We need to recognize this. Take responsibility for that puppy and do the right thing by him and not take the easy way out by destroying him. Yes, he’ll take more work, but there were no guarantees that everything was going to go the way that you wanted it to.
In this writer’s opinion, there is something morally wrong with putting a dog to sleep because he has less than ideal temperament. Here again, this is a personal choice and what’s right for me to do may not be right for you to do. (Again, I’m not talking about a dog that is vicious and menacing to people). I’m talking about the fearful, shy, timid dog. Even a dog that has dominant tendencies can be trained. It all takes time.
So as I said in the beginning of this article, some breeders will not put up with less than ideal temperament. No one who loves the German Shepherd Dog wants to see him cowering in the corner or shaking at the first unfamiliar noise that he hears. Breed for any length of time, and evidently you will see one of these types of personalities. Some of you will destroy them. Some of you will make sure the dog gets the extra training that he needs to make him a happy part of someone’s family. Growing up, I know that I haven’t always been the most ideal type of personality everyday of my life. My mother and father didn’t take me out in the back yard and shoot me because I may have been disagreeable! They disciplined me and taught me right from wrong. So who am I not to give a less than desirable tempered animal the same consideration through discipline and training and “Oh yeah, in some cases” a whole lot of patience?!
My rating: train your dog: (4)!