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To muzzle or not to muzzle your dog?

By Pokerface - 25 July 2011 28

I have a 3yr old female staffy who I’ve had since she was a pup.  Until recently she has been friendly with other dogs.  However about a month ago she was attacked by a Labrador who came running at us off the leash.  My dog was on the leash and also on a ‘halti’ collar so couldn’t do much to defend herself because I was pulling her head back.  But after being attacked for about a minute with a neighbour trying to pull the other dog off she was able to get a hold of the other dog’s ear and then didn’t let go! She ended up with a piece of it’s ear!

A few weeks later I saw the same dog running at us again off the lead.  I ran because I knew my dog was now capable of causing serious injury but it caught up and attacked  again! The same situation mine was on the lead, it wasn’t, and again my dog latched on to the attacking dog’s ear.   It was really scary, four people couldn’t get her off the other dog.  Finally someone threw water on them.  And the attacking dog was left with serious puncture wounds that needed stitching.

The owners of the attacking dog are aware that this is a problem dog, and apologized for it not being on the leash.  My concern is the damage my dog caused in defending itself.  I have read that lockjaw in dogs is a myth, but whatever you call it, she latched on and didn’t let go! Now my dog is showing these signs of aggression towards other dogs on our walk.

My concern is that I’m doing the best I can by keeping her on the leash, with a halti.  Should muzzle her?  What if she gets attacked again and can’t defend herself? What about behaviour/social training, can anyone recommend someone in Canberra?

What’s Your opinion?

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28 Responses to
To muzzle or not to muzzle your dog?
Hosinator 4:28 pm 25 Jul 11

Just to be clear about my post above. Since taking our dog to the dog park at Yarralumla his behaviour at home and around other dogs has improved.

He now knows not to nip at dogs or people and mount every dog out there. Socialising dogs is similar to socialising kids.

If they have limited contact with others they won’t know how to act around them. That’s why Gen Y kids are so selfish, mummy and daddy locked them inside. God forbid they scrape their knee or catch a cold playing with kids at the park.

Hosinator 4:20 pm 25 Jul 11

If you want to socialise your dog, take it to the Yarralumla Dog Park. It’s near the Yarralumla Nursery.

If you do visit the park, please take into account that she has been attacked twice and how she may react to other dogs at the park.
You may want to muzzle her or keep her on a lead in the park until you feel confident that she will play nicely with the other dogs. Although she didn’t start the fight with the Labrador you’ll need to be wary of any overreactions. Be mindful of any Labradors at the park she may now hate this breed of dog.

Keep some water on hand if that will assist in separating her from another dog and be open and honest with the other owners. If they know what to expect, it will make it easier to react to any potential situations.

We take our dog to the small dog section and he’s a horny little rat even though he’s been de-sexed and has nipped at other dogs faces. Most owners don’t mind and will say that they will sort it out amongst themselves in their own doggy way.

You just need to restore faith in your dog that not all dogs are bad, supervised socialising is a good start.

Watson 3:46 pm 25 Jul 11

You can make an appointment with a behavioural trainer at the RSPCA too. I took my dog there once and she made a lot of sense.

Pokerface 3:21 pm 25 Jul 11

Widdershins said :

I’m sorry this happened.

Sean Ehlers at Dogtech (in Scullin, I think, but he comes to you) is amazing. Real dog whisperer stuff, although you need to really follow his instructions (can be hard work!). Good luck!

Thanks for the referal to Dogtech, I’ll be looking into this because I think once it’s got a taste of aggression it can only get worse.

And Evan James, it could well be an American Pit Bull or American Staffy, it’s taller than an English Staffy. She’s just from a pet shop and came without papers. But does it really matter?

damien haas 3:21 pm 25 Jul 11

Tooks said :

Pitbulls don’t have locking jaws, that is a myth. In fact, they don’t even have the strongest jaws in the dog world.

No, those would be on my mums pomeranian ‘Bonza’.

Tooks 3:10 pm 25 Jul 11

Pitbulls don’t have locking jaws, that is a myth. In fact, they don’t even have the strongest jaws in the dog world.

Morgan 3:09 pm 25 Jul 11

That kind of attitude from the Lab owners makes me very angry. I have spent a lot of time trying to make my dog social, through training and active socialisation.

I feel that I have the right to walk my dog without being distrubed by bdly trained agressive, dangerous animals. This is why I always go walking in strong boots so I can give animals which try to hurt my dog a good beating.

I would suggest some resocialisation for your dog – Obedience school, Kennel Club, and remember that your dog can sense your mood. Best of luck, remember that if your dog attacks another one even in defence it could be destroyed.

EvanJames 3:02 pm 25 Jul 11

That lock jaw thing is a feature of American Pit Bulls. Are you sure your dog is pure Staffordshire? It might have “interesting” ancestry.

Widdershins 3:01 pm 25 Jul 11

I’m sorry this happened.

Sean Ehlers at Dogtech (in Scullin, I think, but he comes to you) is amazing. Real dog whisperer stuff, although you need to really follow his instructions (can be hard work!). Good luck!

Classified 2:46 pm 25 Jul 11

Tooks said :

I’d say the dog isn’t the problem…

Agreed. I periodicallt take my dog for a walk through a large bush reserve near my house, and there are signs around the reserve boundary stating that dogs are allowed, but must be on leash. Well, every time I go up there I see at least 1 or 2 dogs not on the leash. I also saw two dogs get into a scrap with a kangaroo, and had the two young female (early 20’s owners) shouting and carrying on.

Why people don’t put their bloody dogs on leashes is a mystery. Alternatively, there are dog parks around where dogs can run off leash if that’s what you want.

carnardly 2:26 pm 25 Jul 11

The owner of the second dog would’ve copped a serve the first time it happened. They would’ve copped a rocket the second.

breda 2:14 pm 25 Jul 11

The owner of the dog that attacked your dog (twice) should be prosecuted – did you report it? It should not have been off leash, and it should not have attacked another animal. Once is bad enough, but twice is a clear sign that the other owner is absolutely careless of other animals’ and people’s safety.

Regarding your dog, she will need some remedial training and re-socialising to stop the aggressive behaviour, which is caused by fear, as you say she was previously friendly. If you can afford it, a dog behaviourist can help with this.

Until then, sadly you will have to be very careful when you take her out where there are other dogs. The lockjaw thing is only an issue if the dog is aggressive – most medium to large dogs, however good a rap they get, can inflict serious and even fatal injuries without the aid of this breed’s very powerful jaw.

Sorry to hear this has happened. For the sake of your dog and other dogs and their owners, I would report the owner of the Labrador without delay. Even if you can’t identify them by name, a description may help either with catching them or identifying them next time this dog attacks someone else’s pet.

Tooks 2:11 pm 25 Jul 11

I wouldn’t muzzle her. If she gets attacked again and she’s wearing a muzzle, she won’t be able to defend herself. Idiots like the lab’s owner should be reported. I think it’s a $400 fine for not having your dog on a lead and a further $400 for not having proper control of your dog (don’t quote me though).

You might want to consider a behaviourist for your dog’s aggression issues.

The owners of the attacking dog are aware that this is a problem dog

I’d say the dog isn’t the problem…

Pokerface 1:56 pm 25 Jul 11

No it was Narrabundah / Red Hill area.

dungfungus 1:39 pm 25 Jul 11

This happen in the Fadden Hills area by any chance?

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