our imperfections

when your dog is suddenly aggressive, what should you do?


I love dogs. But I am not an expert and I am not a whisperer. Somewhere along the way, I led people to believe this. Yes, I can train my own animals to do certain things…but with time and patience anyone can. What I can’t do is read their minds. Oh how i wish I knew what was going through those cute little furry heads when they do something crazy or silly.

Tonight, Daniel and I met with a dog trainer because last week…was pretty rough. Let me start from the “beginning.”

Most of you know the story of Osa, but this is not about her very beginnings [although they definitely shaped her into who she is today]. This is about the beginning of her change.

I’ve been keeping a secret: Since mid-March, Daniel and I have been struggling with Osa. All of a sudden she is an aggressive dog [towards some other dogs]. Daniel and I have been trying new methods and techniques, but after the last 2 attacks, I was traumatized. This many tears have not been shed since Daniel was hospitalized in 2009.

I felt ashamed and embarrassed that this was my Osa. Where did it come from? What was the trigger? Do we need to think about adoption?? –cue sobbing- What if we have to put her down?? –cue breakdown- Both Mya and Buster were injured – and Buster needed stitches. Was this all my fault?? Should I have left tiny little Osa in the road all those years ago?? Oh, the tears.

Our vet recommended a trainer. I was skeptical because I considered daniel and myself pretty good at teaching our dogs. And then I was scared because the possible-trainer said she might have to refer us to a behavior therapist, depending on the issue. Everything worked out. She said this was definitely something she could handle. YES.

We met Osa’s trainer tonight. Having an outside observer is the best thing we could have done. She showed us things about Osa we never realized. For example? My “simple” dog is oh-so-smart. Abby noticed things that may have led up to the events that started a couple months ago. She analyzed Osa’s behavior and what we shared about each incident. In every case, there was a “resource,” a type of “trigger.”

What we have concluded: Osa is an anxious dog. And she feels like she needs to take care of us – enforce the things we request of other dogs. She needs control. It’s true! And anxiety mixed with our commands, loud situations [barking, noise levels, yelling], only makes things worse. “Well if they’re not going to do anything about that non-stop barking, I will.”

I feel such relief that someone is hopeful. Osa will never revert to being her goofy old self…but we know what to watch out for and which situations to avoid. We are back to kenneling her in our absence and have purchased a muzzle for certain situations. It’s been about 4 or 5 days of muzzle training now…and she’s fine. Barely reacts anymore.

I am sad that things have to change…I am sad that some people see her differently. But I am also hopeful. I get to keep my Osa, and rediscover how amazing she can be.


when your dog is suddenly aggressive, what should you do?


What would you do in this situation? What have you done in this situation?




  1. I've read your blog for awhile now, and never commented. But I wanted to tell you that I think you're doing the right thing. We don't give up on the things we love, and you will get through this with Osa! Dogs are so resilient, and she wants to make you happy. It'll be ok. I'm so sorry you have to go through this, it's awful stress to know there's something not right with your beloved pet.

  2. That is so, so hard, and I am really happy to hear that the trainer was helpful. Sometimes it takes an outside pair of eyes, even though you and Daniel are great at training and caring for your dog babies. 🙂 So glad to hear this outcome!

  3. Yay! I'm so happy the trainer was able to work with you guys and Osa to get her feeling safe and calm again. I was worried! And I would have been devastated for you if you had to choose any of those awful options. Gonna go give Mindy and Chunk-chunk great big hugs … and maybe cry into their fur a little bit.

    Yay Osa!

  4. Aww I bet that has been so stressful – glad to see that it is starting to get better! You are definitely doing the right thing to get training for her!

  5. I also have an adorable yet reactive dog. We have been working with our trainer now for a year. It will never be the same with an anxious dog, BUT you will come to know your dog and their triggers so well that you can prevent almost any situtation. Almost. Try Bach's Rescue Rememdy and 5-HTP supplements. They have helped Piper a lot. Please don't hesitate to ask me any questions. Hopefully you too will feel more confident and happy with your dog after working with your trainer!

  6. No one should see her differently! She's truly no different, this has been a part of her forever. As long as she is loved, and taken care of, that is absolutely wonderful. She's beautiful, and her smarts sound like a Sheltie! I am so glad y'all found one another. Thank goodness YOU found her. What if someone less kind, less loving, less forgiving did? Never be sad for what you DID do. <3 Never doubt that!

  7. I'm sorry you've had to deal with this. I love dogs too, and adore my shirley but she's a lot like your Osa I think. Much too smart for her own good. She managed to settle in with our other dog after months and months, and then we put Bailey down last June and she's beginning to revert back to her 'bad' behaviors. We've found that a harness works wonders on her walks, and her walks have really helped to calm her down. Last week it rained like every day so she didn't get any walks – cue bad potty behavior all over my living room floor!

    I think you're doing a great job! =) Keep it up!

  8. I am so thankful to you for writing this post. I know it had to have been hard, but I know what you mean! I've had dogs all my life and my family and I have always trained them ourselves. A few months ago I got a puppy (which I had been wanting to do for years). However, she's been awful. I've never had such a difficult time with a dog and my boyfriend is ready to give her away (which makes me extremely sad to think about). I'm trying obedience school tomorrow with her though- and I'm just praying it works!!!
    Hope everything works out for yall as well!!

  9. Aw, Osa, I have anxiety too! Poor pup. I'm so glad she has owners like you and Daniel who are so concerned about her wellbeing and willing to put the time, effort, and funds into working with her.

  10. I'm so sorry about your troubles. But I want you to know it's not your fault. She's trying to be a good dog, she just has a slightly different view of what that entails.

    My dog was attacked by two other dogs this year (at the same time), and Georgi is a bully breed mix. He's the dog everyone's afraid of, yet he was attacked by a Black Lab mix and a Great Pyrenees mix. They tried to play tug of war with him. Then they tried to attack me, and Georgi barreled through them.

    So, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you. I know that it's tough — I consider myself to be a pretty decent trainer for my dog, but I know I need a professional to show me some of the ropes. My neighbor isn't seeking assistance for his dogs. We live in an area where there are NO leash laws. His dogs attacked mine while they were out of his yard, unsupervised, and my dog was on a leash out for his evening walk. My husband and I went to speak to the owner of the other dogs. His reply? "Well, uh, you know, our dogs are dog aggressive…" Nothing has been done about the dogs. No fence erected. No leashes produced… No supervision.

    So, thank you so much for your courage and bravery in speaking to a trainer. Good luck with Osa, and if you need to talk at all — I know you don't know me from Eve, but I'm around. Just come by the blog, and follow me on one of the social networks.

  11. i am so sorry about your situation! it makes me sad when people don't take more responsibility for their dogs. they might provoke the wrong dog one day, and then what will your neighbor do? i hope things work out eventually.

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