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My friend has had to have her Collie put to sleep today. He had serious fear aggression issues but generally, was okay with his family but as a result of his fear aggression, he couldn't be put in situations that a normal dog could. My friend's mum is a dog behaviourist and although they had him from a pup and tried to overcome his issues, some were there for life for him.

Unfortunately his fear aggression became too unprdictable and in the last two days, he had bitten both my friend and her mum despite there being no trigger for the attacks.

I believe they made completely the right decision, he had 7 years with them and 7 years of a good quality and happy life.

However it has brought home to me how on earth I'd feel when the day comes for me to say goodby to Harley. I think before then I need to get another Setter to lessen the loss and count myself lucky that he is only 3.5 years old.

I do feel desperately sad for my friend though, she is in bits and I am not surprised. Very strange how dogs can get so under your skin and become 'people'.

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Very sorry for your friend, it is certainly not the nicest way to say goodbye to a beloved pet .... I really wonder how a sweet loving dog can suddenly develop fear aggression? I know a case like this one when the dog started to become aggressive at the age of 6, was it the case for your friend? or was the dog always having this problem? I wish some ES friends could help me to understand this change in behaviour.

Re the day you will have to say goodbye to Harley, I can tell you from my own experience that having another dog will not lesser your sorrow, far from it. However, I can imagine that it may help you to get another dog after and avoid the bad feeling of "replacement" as we never replace a dog by having another one, each of them are unique as I am sure you know too well. Furthermore, we are never prepared, when the time comes it hurts so badly .... I guess we can only get some comfort by thinking we have done the best for them and we were very lucky to share all those special moments.
Julia I am completely nuts with my dog, so take the following comment accordingly, but I think you can get attached to a pet more and even much more than what you will be with humans....  so your friend definitely has all my deepest sympathy.

Chantal,I agree with all that you have said.We usually have two or three setters and losing one is no easier but having the other dog(s) makes you not feel you are replacing your lost dog.

Hi Julia, I am so sorry for your friend and sad that they were put in that situation. We lost Jack a couple of months ago and he always had a problem with nervous aggression, he was sick from the day we had him and I always wondered if he felt vulnerable and that was the cause, he was attacked several times by other dogs as well but at home he was a different dog, a very naughty and loving setter!!


Jack was only yrs old  when he died from megaesophagus and although we knew he would not make "old bones" it was still a huge shock and has left a gaping hole in our lives. I am so glad now that we took loads of photos and videos so that we can look back and see how happy he was with us. we are getting a new puppy in a couple of weeks, not to replace him but because we love the breed and dogs in general. My other two are just about coming back to life and the youngest misses Jack dreadfully. My husband also wrote down all the funny little ways that Jack had as we were both scared we would forget!!


I'm sure your friend will find that the pain lessens in time but it never goes away and they stay in our hearts forever xx

Hi Julia,

I can empathise with this situation having personally experienced fear aggression with a previous family dog who was only 3 years and I had to put him to sleep at the prime of his life.  In this situation one has to make an informed decision and for the safety for oneself, family, children, other pets and the dog itself, it is the best and kindest thing to do and it is a traumatic situation particularly for the owner and carer of the pet.  


This condition is hard to understand, is rarely discussed and reported upon.  I do believe it is a mental illness of the animal and I feel the worst thing to do is to offer such a dog for rescue or re-homing as it is only passing the problem on. It can be a difficult condition to treat, particularly if the dog becomes fearfully aggressive and often does without provocation.


One article I read summarizes this problem very well, as there are no winners in this situation for the owner, the family, the vet or the dog.  One has to consider the unpredictability of the condition in relation to the welfare of the dog and the potential harm and danger that can be caused to victims be they adults, children or animals.

Kind Regards,



Hi Julia

I am so very sorry to hear about your friends Collie, and can quite understand what you have written, I too have had a bitch that was ruled by fear, but not quite to that extent, she would need to be 'pushed' very hard in a situation before she would bite/nip at anyone stupid enough to ignore her warnings, but your friends dog, and many like it really don't give warnings and just lash out at the nearest thing whoever or whatever that may be, although I personally feel that you getting another dog now to ease the loss of your Harley is unfortunately not really going to work, well for me it doesn't, the only thing is that there is another dog for a 'shoulder to cry on'

For me it has never eased the loss of the first one, although I have had many setters, and most have been in two's and three's, they like people are individuals and you miss them for themselves, like a family member.

But saying that it is always good to have 'another' wonderful setter in your life...they are accumulative, once you have one you seem to need more, and more..and more. But again that is just my opinion..

I also agree that your friend did the rite thing having their poor mixed up dog put to sleep/rest, Nervous aggression is always a difficult one to get around, it is so very unpredictable. I hope that your friend gets another dog soon, too, this would, I hope ease her pain, and give her something to focus on in the next few months..but perhaps try to get a breed that is a little less 'sharp'.....perhaps a Gundog????......

Very sorry to hear of your friend's loss ... I hope she will not torture herself wondering if she did everything possible and so on as I'm sure she did.  There just is not a good way to lose a beloved family member.  Warm hugs.




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