Why We Kept Our Dog After He Attacked Us

We had Denver for about 2 years before deciding to adopt a second dog. We were volunteering at a shelter at the time and had our hearts set on adopting a dog that had been there for a few months. Unfortunately, she was fearful of other dogs and did not do well when meeting Denver.

One weekend, we met the weirdest looking dog named Nelson who had a long barrel body, short chunky legs, and giant puppy paws. He had been found on the side of a highway and had been at the shelter for about a month as he recovered from some minor injuries. We brought Denver to meet him and they got along swimmingly. We put in our application and a few days later, we brought him home and gave him a new name–Benji.


We were living in the city of Denver at the time and there is about a 1-to-1 dog to people ratio in Denver. There were dogs everywhere– at the parks, on the trails, and seemingly in every unit of our 10 story apartment building. We quickly found out that Denver was actually one of the few dogs that Benji got along with. Our first encounter with a neighbor’s husky was disastrous and Benji had to be dragged away, barking his head off.

Leash/dog aggression became an ongoing issue with Benji. He would bark and struggle against the leash. He would nip at the leash and snap at us. We had to change our schedule to avoid taking the elevator during busy times. We tried taking the stairs but we lived on the 10th floor and that wasn’t practical. Taking the dogs outside became fraught with anxiety.

Benji Attacks My Wife

Then about 2 weeks after we adopted him, Benji attacked my wife while she was walking him by herself. He saw another dog across the park and lost it. He clamped his jaws around her arm and even though she was wearing a puffer jacket, he broke skin. It wasn’t serious enough to need stitches but it was still rattling none-the-less. She had to wrestle him off her arm and barely managed to get him back to the apartment. 

Prior to this incident, we were flying from the seat of our pants when it came to training Benji. We were walking our dogs on slip leads and tried to avoid other dogs as much as possible including waking up at 5AM to take them outside. We dreaded every time we had to leave the apartment with Benji. 

After the attack, we weighed our options regarding keeping or returning Benji. If we returned Benji after a bite incident it would be a lot harder to find him a new home or worse–he would be put to sleep for being aggressive. It was upsetting to think that he could turn on us like that but we didn’t want to potentially sentence him to death over it. So we decided to give him a second chance and really ramp up our efforts in training him. We went out and purchased a prong collar for him and that started our journey in training our dogs with prong collars.

The prong collar helped Benji immensely along with e-collar training. Benji is still not perfectly behaved around other dogs. But, he is much more manageable. He has not turned his aggression on us again and is great with our kids. In May, it will be 5 years since we adopted him.

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