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So, talk to me about muzzles...

(13 Posts)
ellangirl Mon 13-Jun-11 13:31:39

I have a dog aggressive collie girl and I am at my wits end with other peoples dogs running straight up to her. If they do this she will undoubtedly go for them, and it doesn't give me a chance to distract her and keep her calm. She really is a lovely girl, who would love to be friends with other dogs really but was undersocialised big time and therefore is frightened- she just assumes all other dogs are a threat esp when they run straight up! She bears her teeth and makes a big noise sometimes lunging at them, but she has never bitten another dog. My thoughts were that a muzzle might make people think twice about letting their dog run straight up to her, and if they do then she couldn't be accused of actually doing any harm.

I could of course walk her where there are no people around, which is what I do most of the time, but sometimes I want to go other places for a change, hence wondering if a muzzle might help me to do that.

Empusa Mon 13-Jun-11 13:36:30

I'm having exactly the same problem!

We bought a muzzle for our boy, but he refuses to walk with it on hmm helpful dog that he is

I'd try it though, she may deal with it better than he does?

People are a nightmare for letting their dogs run up aren't they? We've even tried yelling at them to keep their dogs back, the best response (funny with hindsight) was from a couple with a tiny little yorkshire terrier (we have a large pointer cross) yelling back that their dog wouldn't hurt ours. Their dog was smaller than our dog's head!!

Scuttlebutter Mon 13-Jun-11 13:53:39

We have three greyhounds, two of whom are routinely muzzled on walks for a variety of reasons. You would think that two on lead, muzzled dogs would be an obvious red flag for other dog walkers but unfortunately from experience this is not the case.

However, I would still recommend wearing one - they can be purchased in a variety of weights, and you can even have them custom made. The key is to wear a light, comfortable muzzle thus ensuring it is not heavy or tight for the dog, and still allows room for breathing and drinking. Ours are fine in their muzzles, and although 99.99% of the time they are not needed I regard them as the doggy equivalent of a seatbelt - good to have in an emergency. The other reason we have them (particularly for one of our dogs, who is a gannet) is that humans are such filthy, messy creatures, and especially in summer leave all manner of foodstuffs lying around in parks - half eaten pizzas, burgers, and even left over portable BBQs. I don't want our dogs running the risk of eating cooked bones/decomposing food, so muzzles help with that too.

minimu1 Mon 13-Jun-11 13:57:48

Can I join the reactive dog thread please!?

I have a foster collie (although between you and me he is not going anywhere!) who is very dog aggressive dog. He is lovely with people in fact one of the most loving dogs I have ever known.

I have made him a jacket that he wears that says "dog in training - please keep your distance" (problem is most dogs can't read! but it does mean that people remember us and tend to stay away if they see us again)

I don't muzzle unless mine is off lead. I introduced the muzzle gradually and he got loads of treats and so thinks it is the best thing ever. I have also trained him to push a football with the muzzle so that he is kept busy when out on walks.

I luckily have other dogs and they do tend to surround my collie when other dogs approach but even so I often call to owners to "call their dogs". Usually like you they say they are only going to play and I just have to answer but mine do not play. If the dog continues to approach all my dogs will be in a down and I stand between my dogs and the approaching dogs and say "away" very assertively most dogs will pause then I can turn and walk away with my guys. Meanwhile the poor collie is spitting, lunging and flipping around.

If one more owner tells me that my dog will be fine if I let him off lead I will be a millionaire.

I think people with reactive dogs work really hard to give their dogs a great life and just have to be a bit assertive to make sure people understand. My approach is polite but assertive and non apologetic. Our dogs need to be able to walk without being mugged by other dogs.

ellangirl Mon 13-Jun-11 13:58:43

Ha, glad I'm not the only one! I hate the response 'oh it's alright, my dog is friendly'. Every time a dog runs up and she reacts it sets my dogs training back again as she is then more apprehensive next time we are out. I have a puppy too and I am determined to train her to stay away from other dogs until I tell her it's ok to say hello, but that's hard to do too when other people don't do the same thing.
I don't want to make her more nervous by wearing a muzzle, I just want to give people a clear signal to people to keep their dogs away!

Empusa Mon 13-Jun-11 14:00:04

minimu1 You've got it spot on there. Might try treating our boy when we use the muzzle, but I feel so bad making him wear it when it isn't his fault.

ellangirl Mon 13-Jun-11 14:07:31

Just read the response there that it doesn't make a difference when people see the muzzle. What a pain. My collie loves people too, she's such a softie. What happened to your poor collie boy to make him so aggressive towards other dogs minumu? I like the dog in training jacket idea by the way!
Also you find that your other dogs react to the collie boy's aggression? Just wondered because I avoid walking the dog and puppy together if I think that I will come across other dogs because I don't want the puppy exposed to an aggressive situation. Luckily I have lots of empty beaches here where we can avoid other dogs if needs be.

ellangirl Mon 13-Jun-11 14:10:12

Oh scuttle you're so right about the dogs eating things. It's so blooming manky what people leave lying around isn't it! i could do with a muzzle for that when we go to the beach- all sorts of horrible rotten things wash up and the dogs would just love to have a good scavenge! Boak!

Scuttlebutter Mon 13-Jun-11 14:14:54

Minimu, LOVE the idea of the doggy jacket.

Ellan and empusa, please don't feel bad about your dog wearing a muzzle. Your dog doesn't feel bad about it - they will only care if it is uncomfortable or stops them breathing/drinking/pinching leftover burgers. Loads of greyhounds wear them and ours don't bat an eyelid and believe me, they are not backward in making views known about their clothing/temperature of walks etc. grin

If anything ever did kick off, at least you can say that your dog was on the lead, muzzled and under control. Peace of mind - priceless.

minimu1 Mon 13-Jun-11 14:21:08

ellangirl I am a dog behavourist and one morning found the collie tied to my car with a note saying he was aggressive and the old owners could not cope.

He was only about 6 months when we got him so I think it may be an issue with his breeding as I know the owners had socialised him but I think it was just too much for him - he is a sensitive soul.

I would not usually recommend walking other dogs with aggressive dogs but my other guys are used in my training and I actually use them to socialise aggressive dogs so they are well able to cope. They naturally gather around the reactive collie and prevent any dog we meet from getting to close so this is giving him some confidence but we have a long long way to go.

One thing I have found to help my clients reactive dogs is to let them run free (muzzled) with my more grounded guys - they have great doggy communication and know exactly what level of correction the reactive dogs need. It is great to watch as the reactive dogs usually bundle up to my guys spitting lunging and barking my lot all turn their heads and sniff the ground and the reactive dog usually stops surprised as there is no reaction! After a time even the reactive dog is happily sniffing the ground all chilled. However the next time they meet we have to go through the same thing again although the recovery time from the reactive dog is usually quicker! My little collie is totally fine with my lot just every new dog he ever meets. However I think you are absolutely correct to walk yours separately - two major reactive dogs would be hard to manage!

DancesWithNits Mon 13-Jun-11 14:25:42

Agree completely with Scuttlebutter. I have two greyhounds and both wear muzzles. They both have very strong opinions on cats and are far quicker at spotting a cat than I am - so muzzles are the safest option. Both would also happily hoover up any food left lying around.

One is also not a big fan of small dogs - it seems to be the way they have easy access to his undercarriage that freaks him out and, in his desperation to shoo them away, he snaps at them. With the muzzle on, all he succeeds in doing is headbutting them which is the lesser of two evils really grin

ellangirl Mon 13-Jun-11 14:33:12

Exactly minimu, I don't want the same behaviour from the puppy at all! At home there is no sign of the aggression- the dog loves the puppy and they play normally, and curl up together to sleep.
I take my girl to agility training, and sometimes she gets to run with the trainers dogs (very well grounded and socialised) she has a great time. Like you say, when there is no reaction, all the aggression stops. It doesn't even get to lunging etc with his dogs, they have a sniff, she might bear her teeth but as they don't react, then she can have a play. She really is a big puppy still- like she didn't get a proper puppyhood :-(
scuttle I totally agree about peace of mind. I can't stand another confrontation when I'm accused of having a dangerous dog when their dog was the one who came bounding right up!

emptyshell Mon 13-Jun-11 17:58:52

You can get collars on Amazon which are bright coloured and say NO DOGS on and similar if they're a help - I know someone who uses one on her slightly gobby dog but to limited avail.

I um... own a muzzle somewhere (bought it in case it turned out we had a raging psychopath when we had to go to the vet) - think it's on top of a cupboard buried under about 10 inches of dust.

Obviously going to be much different with dog number2 since it'll hopefully be a greyhound!

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