Would you put a muzzle on your potentially aggressive dog in a public park?

(80 Posts)
KindDogsTail Thu 21-Jul-16 16:10:25

I take my young dog to a small city park where lots of other friendly, family dogs play together, often off the lead. From time to time one will run up to another dog to sniff. They are all known to each other at least by sight even of they do not play.

There is a woman who regularly walks two large dogs on a lead there. One is a Labrador, the other a rottweiller. She never lets them off, but I had heard the rottweiller had pulled away from her the other day to go after a dog and she had not been able to hold him back at first as he is so strong. Everything was all right in the end. I did not see what happened myself but heard about it.

Today I saw her and thought I had better ask about the rottweiller, to find out more about it, incase our dog or another were to run up to it. I asked her what he would do if this were to happen? She answered that he would "Go for it". I asked, "Would he growl and warn, or would he bite?" She answered, "Oh, he would bite/attack it." I said "In that case do you not think it might be safer if he had a muzzle?" She said "No, because it is up to other dogs to be controlled and stay away." She said she did keep a tight hold of him and warn people to call their dog away.

I asked if there was a certain time of day she comes, and she said no she comes at all times of the day starting at 7.30.

I understand that in the law, she may be right - it is up to people to keep their dog under control and a dog on a lead which attacks another off the lead is not held responsible. But in practice, in a small friendly park where people bring their children and young dogs and puppies, and let them of the lead, in inevitably they run up to other dogs unless they are on the lead all the time.

I cannot understand her attitude, even if she is legally right. If I knew my dog was aggressive and were taking it to a small park, I would put a muzzle on it in case of an accident. A child could do something unexpected, let alone another curious dog. What would you think?

willconcern Thu 21-Jul-16 16:12:21

I agree 100% with you. It should be on a lead & muzzled if it is aggressive & wants to attack other dogs.

SooWrites Thu 21-Jul-16 16:21:58

If her dog is fear aggressive, having it muzzled will heighten it's fear and slow any training or desensitisation she is doing with it.

If your puppy doesn't recall reliably, keep it on a longline. People who think it's okay for their dogs to approach on leash dogs really boil my piss. It is never okay and being a young dog is no excuse. Keep your dogs under control and then everyone (dog lover and non) can enjoy the park freely.

I've walked fear aggressive dogs, often they'll lunge, bark and snarl but the other dogs is sensible enough to keep enough distance. It's a shame the owners are not sensible enough to keep their own dogs away.

Dog aggressive does not equal child aggressive.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Thu 21-Jul-16 16:42:20

I'd say that if her dog is genuinely under close control it shouldn't need to wear a muzzle.

If other people's dogs/children are not under close control that is their issue.

Greyhorses Thu 21-Jul-16 17:04:59

By law her dog is classed as under control as it is on lead so she is doing nothing wrong. If your dog approaches hers it is your fault as you should have called yours back.

It's people who do this who stop me from enjoying my walks, constantly having to ask people to make their dogs leave mine alone. It's actually really frustrating with a fearful dog to have it frightened by out of control puppies running up to it, yet I'm the bad one when my dog kicks off out of sheer terror. Hence, I don't always muzzle her because frankly why should I when she is walking along minding her own and is bothered by other dogs who can't be recalled.

I would and do however muzzle her in places where paths are narrow and she may be in contact with dogs on leads or there are children nearby as she is nervous and always thank considerate people who do follow etiquette and put their dogs on leads when passing an on lead dog.

Dog aggressive does not always mean human aggressive either.

Atenco Thu 21-Jul-16 17:12:14

Interesting perspectives here. I have no personal experience of this situation, but I find it a bit bizarre that people who seemingly love animals would be happy to have another animal severely injured at their feet, because it was the fault of other animal's owner.

Reminds me of a cyclist friend of mine who was always being knocked down because he had the right of way. One thing is to have the law on your side and quite another is to suffer the consequences.

Greyhorses Thu 21-Jul-16 17:35:00

Atenco, I wouldn't purposely see another animal injured but on the other hand it does get to a point after the 10th out of control dog that week where you do get totally fed up. I would do anything to get the dog away before she go to it (which has never happened I might add!) but it is a two way street.

Not all dogs like dogs, not all dogs are healthy and can play. There are a million reasons why dogs are kept on leads and it is my responsibility as an owner to make sure my dog is safe and isn't bothering other members of the public. When I let my dog off lead I accept there could be a risk that she could be injured in some way and it is up to me to supervise her at all times and ensure she is at a level of training where I can control her. If she ran up to a dog and got bitten I would blame myself 100%.
Its not just that your dog can approach others but what about people who are frightened of dogs or children it's just irresponsible if you can't recall it.

My dog is on lead, on a headcollar, I have a muzzle strapped to my belt. She is in a sit or heel position watching my every move. I am able to control her and bellow a warning as soon as I see a dog look as if it is going to run up to her to give owners a heads up. She also barks her head off trying to get rid of it if it does come too close..only if it continues to annoy her would she nip it but why should I constantly muzzle her when she is sat minding her own business waiting for a biscuit and it's someone else's dog that is causing a problem?

Also, my dog is fear aggressive because she was attacked by an off lead dog more than once requiring stitches so I won't leave her defenceless either.

Would I feel bad if she bit something of course I would but it really does work both ways and I am keeping up my end of the bargain by making sure she is strapped to my side and can't move an inch without my say so smile

KindDogsTail Thu 21-Jul-16 18:14:45

I am aware of the fact that she is legally within her rights, as far as I know, though perhaps if she knows it is aggressive, and it is so strong it can pull away from her there may be a different legal view.

Other dogs do not make a point of running up to this one and people including me try to be careful about their dogs not running up to other dogs they don't know. Obviously it is a nuisance at the best of times. This is a park where it is OK for dogs to run and play with each other freely, however, and in the course of things some could potentially run up to sniff this dog. Also there are paths which are quite narrow, so even dogs on leads could come too close to it.

This is the only dog I know of here who is aggressive to the extent it will not warn by barking or growling but only attack - according to the owner's description of his behaviour - apart from another person I know, who rescued a large, aggressive dog, who does put a muzzle on her in this park and when walking along the residential pavements, and who is trying to train her too, to se-sensitize her.

I am not aware the owner here doing any training to do with de-sensitisation for fear-aggression, and she did not specifically mention that. The rottweiler is is not wearing a yellow warning collar I saw Louise Glazebrook mention, either for warning and or training like this. I did not know a muzzle would make him more aggressive, as I have often seen basket muzzles recommended, for newly rescued greyhounds for example.

If he were my dog, I would be annoyed if other dogs ran up to it, but I would have it wear a muzzle rather than risk any harm being done. He is huge and very strong too so I would not count on being able to hold him if he did get angry or upset. She was not able to the other day, but as I said I did not see that myself.

I am interested to hear these alternative points of view to my own though.

CloudPirate Thu 21-Jul-16 18:21:04

I worry about this a lot ...mine is daft as a brush and cannot understand that not all people or dogs want to say hello to her. In most situations her recall is great, but if she is running around playing with other dogs off the lead, she doesn't always understand that she IS allowed to play with the small herd of dogs she's running round with, but not the dog walking past on a lead, especially not when she's really excited. She probably spends more time on a lead than she really needs to, because I just don't like to take the risk.

I don't get it when I take her to a park or field and it's full of people with dogs on leads, who can't socialise with other dogs. I go to open spaces away from roads specifically so she can run off her lead, instead of having to go at boring human pace.

I always put her back on the lead if there is another dog on a lead (if there is a dog off lead I call out to ask if she is OK to say hello), but I find it incredibly frustrating when it's somewhere like the park. It's not that I don't understand that some dogs really can't have her bounding over to them, more that if you're walking your dog on a lead, why do you need to do it in the open space where people can let their dogs off lead safely, IYSWIM?

I would never actually say anything or be awkward about it by the way, just one of those things I find a bit frustrating smile

NoncommittalToSparkleMotion Thu 21-Jul-16 18:29:09

I have a fear aggressive dog. She's little, but in the early days I considered a muzzle because she would indeed lunge and attack.

It only made things worse. She was anxious just walking around with it on. A vet has said she may be leash aggressive, but it's not something I'm comfortable testing out tbh.

I do try and walk her during less busy times of day (dinner and before lunchtime) so as to limit the likeliness of her running into other dogs.

Garbadgeman Thu 21-Jul-16 18:57:51

The Rottie owner is legally and morally in the right imo, it's every owners responsibility to keep their dog under control and basic common sense to recall your dog if it attempts to approach a dog being kept on a lead. My dogs are my responsibility, if they put themselves in danger due to my actions (i.e. letting them run free if I'm not 100% confident of their recall) then I am responsible if they get hurt, no one else. She is taking responsibility for her dog, he's walked on lead only and she warns other owners to keep their dogs away, if your dog is under control there shouldn't be a problem as you can call yours back before he/she gets too close.

Greyhorses Thu 21-Jul-16 19:07:57

I walk mine in the park sometimes because she dislikes traffic and also because I have a second dog who likes to be let off, and also because I think why shouldn't I enjoy the park like everyone else?

To be honest it's rare I do take her because it's annoyingly frustrating but I don't see why I shouldn't due to out of control dogs if that makes sense?

I do see both sides and if I was asked this a few years ago I would have had a different answer but honestly until you have had a less than perfect dog it's hard to understand sad

I would love to let my dog run but sadly I need to keep other dogs safe, the least other people could do would be to be considerate and put their dogs on leads for 5 seconds until I get passed...your very lucky it's only for a tiny amount of time and not permenantly blush

BusyNothings Thu 21-Jul-16 19:11:20

We've had all sorts of dogs in our past from different aggression issues to just plain soft and daft and one of my biggest things that make me really angry are people who let their dogs run up to dogs on the lead. You don't know why they are on a lead and you should be in control of your dog at all times.

For example my two beagles at the moment are soft little buggers who play with anything in sight. However if another dog comes in the park on the lead I get them back at my side and remain in control of them. The dog on the lead has as much right to a walk as mine.

Also you don't why that dog is on the lead. Perfect example is my mums/family German shepherd. She had both hips replaced but was still very wobbly for a good two years and in a lot of pain not allowed to do a lot of exercise. So stressed, struggling, in pain and held back. If a dog ran up to her she was not happy and with every right to be. One dog who came up I fielded whilst my mum got ours out of the way. The owner gave me the same response you gave this owner. And no I don't think we should muzzle her. I think you should control your off lead dog.

Sorry if this seems angry but it's something I've had a lot of problems with in the past and as a dog owner and lover it's something that really gets me.

KindDogsTail Thu 21-Jul-16 21:30:57

Everyone usually does stop their dogs running up to other dogs here, and of course I understand that is something that should not happen. I understand a dog my be ill. or shy etc not want to play. Also, on paths, the friendliest of dogs can want to guard their owner.

In this place a lot of the dogs know each other and do want to play so, as another poster mentioned it is a fine line, to let them do this with dogs they know but be put on the lead if another unknown dog is nearby. The dog in question crosses over the parts that are expanses of grass where the dogs play, and does not just walk on the path.

Until now though I had the feeling that no one would go to this park with an aggressive dog without a muzzle. I understand a grumbly dog, or one that would growl or snap if another dog came near not having a muzzle, but not one that would actively lunge and attack with all that size too.

She told me she warns any owners of dogs that come near, but until I had spoken to her I had not known.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Thu 21-Jul-16 16:42:20
If other people's dogs/children are not under close control that is their issue

For me, it would be terribly upsetting, and I would feel it was my issue too, if a child or someone else's dog got hurt by my dog, even though it was not [my] aggressive dog on the lead's 'fault'.

I should think if a child were hurt the law would be different anyway. I hope other posters are right that dog aggressive does not mean child aggressive.
I can see that a dog's fear aggression might be related to other dogs not children, but children can move unpredictably and maybe could seem frightening too.

dodobookends Thu 21-Jul-16 21:37:04

I wouldn't take a potentially aggressive dog anywhere near a public park without a muzzle on. What if that owner tripped and fell over or was taken ill and let go of the 'potentially aggressive' dog's lead?

AlcoChocs Thu 21-Jul-16 21:41:55

in a small friendly park where people bring their children and young dogs and puppies, and let them of the lead, in inevitably they run up to other dogs unless they are on the lead all the time.
OP, it's not inevitable as surely you'd recall your dog if it looks like it's going to run up to an on-lead dog?
If it won't come when you call then its not under control and shouldn't be off lead until trained.

KindDogsTail Thu 21-Jul-16 22:20:12

Yes, I would but what if that recall wasn't fast enough? I wouldn't expect him to get killed for not managing it quickly enough.

I meant inevitable that sooner or later should wouldn't come into it, a dog might run up to that dog. Lots of dogs have generally good recall but not necessarily perfect trained sheep dog style perfect split second recall. Usually in our normally gentle world here that is good enough.

Just like a dog might run up to my dog. In fact a certain one does, and rather aggressively, not to play. I don't like it and try to avoid it but when it happens, luckily my dog doesn't attack but bounces sideways.

tabulahrasa Thu 21-Jul-16 22:21:45

" I find it a bit bizarre that people who seemingly love animals would be happy to have another animal severely injured at their feet, because it was the fault of other animal's owner."

See I find it a bit bizarre that I'm supposed to take more care of a strange dog's wellbeing than it's owner.

I mean, I do muzzle my dog, but it is actually odd if you think about it, that I'm supposed to protect other dogs from mine, even though he's aggressive precisely because those other owners don't control their dogs...

KindDogsTail Thu 21-Jul-16 22:39:04

What happened to your dog Tabulah that made him aggressive because other owners did not control their dogs? DId some other dogs attack him?

I think it is kind of you to put a muzzle on.

Garbadgeman Thu 21-Jul-16 22:45:59

It's a shame more land owners haven't clicked onto the idea of renting fenced fields for exercising dogs, it's hard to find anywhere you won't encounter other dog walkers which does make it difficult for dogs who aren't socially perfect. Mine are friendly but I don't trust their recall 100% so we're restricted to lead walks and trying to find times we can get a field to ourselves so they can run without me worrying they might bother other dogs/owners. I'd be more than happy to pay a small fee to secure a private field for an hour every day and I doubt I'm the only one. As it stands we all just have to do our best to share the spaces available and be as responsible as we can be however imperfect our dogs may be.

KindDogsTail Thu 21-Jul-16 22:53:42

Garbadgeman
That is a really good idea.

Garbadgeman Thu 21-Jul-16 23:04:40

There are places that do it, know there's a few Facebook pages but nothing in my area unfortunately.

tabulahrasa Fri 22-Jul-16 00:45:54

Kinddogs - he's got joint and spinal issues that cause pain and he's had surgery for the joint problem.

While having a flare up or recovering from surgery it hurts if dogs bounce on him or shove him, or if he tries to play - but, keeping him on lead and telling people that didn't actually stop dogs coming over, so now he tries to get them before they hurt him.

We're kind of in a no win situation because dogs with social skills avoid his really tense body language and decent owners see his muzzle from miles away (it's baby blue) and keep their dogs away, so we only get either over friendly dogs or dogs who want a fight owned by people who don't control them, so every encounter reinforces to him that he's right to try and get in there first.

Mitfordhons Fri 22-Jul-16 00:55:50

My dog is fear aggressive and always wears a muzzle on walks, I keep him on the lead unless there are no dogs around when he gets to run free. My biggest bug bear is that so many owners do allow their dogs to approach him when he's on the lead. People really should be aware that unless you can absolutely guarantee your dog won't approach then you must put it on the lead until you pass. It's basic dog walking etiquette.

Also my dog loves people and is no danger to children, just because he growls at dogs he has never growled at a human, not even the vet.

PlayingGrownUp Fri 22-Jul-16 01:10:47

If I walk my dog and someone is approaching me with their dog on a lead then he goes on the lead. Same with people with shopping bags because he needs to try to stick his head in to see what the bags hold.

If I see a dog off lead he stays off lead. He's been snapped at twice. Once he jumped up on the other owner (and as I told her that was entirely his fault and it has taught him to stop) and once he walked up to a dog that didn't want to play and kept bugging it. It snapped and he scarpered off to find someone else to play with.

Just because she owns a dog that may attack doesn't mean she can't use the park. To be fair any dog can attack - If nothing else she's more prepared than most owners.

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