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To muzzle or not to muzzle your dog?

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?


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28 Responses to To muzzle or not to muzzle your dog?
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Kali Kali 2:10 pm 21 Sep 11

Hosinator said :

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.

Aggro dogs Should only be bought into a fenced-off park if they have not been socialised….its not fair on the other owners. Especially with a Staffy !….one thing is having your dogged nipped by a nasty poodle and another is having its neck ripped open by a Staffy who has had an unfortunate incident with another dog. I would try it out 1 on 1 (in a neutral area) with a friends dog and work up to the Dog Park (at a time when there arent too many others around) – and make sure its in the BIG DOG area, people are starting to bring Staffy’s/Pig Dogs into the small dog area because they are ‘short’…this is not the idea behind seperated areas.

Kalfour Kalfour 8:17 pm 28 Jul 11

Because you know that your dog is capable of causing serious harm, I think it is worth investing in a muzzle. But I would ONLY use it when your dog is off-lead.
When your dog is on lead, it probably isn’t a threat to anything unless it’s being attacked.

Try socialising it with friend’s dogs, and build it up to the dog park idea (though maybe muzzle it there just in case) so that you can monitor its behaviour with other dogs.

You probably don’t need to worry about your dog being aggressive, but keep an eye out for warning signs just in case.

mahonfia mahonfia 12:07 pm 27 Jul 11

I have a 2 year old staffy who is also now fearful aggressive when confronted by other dogs in public(thanks to a few incidents that frightened him due also to the poor behaviour of dog owners who let their dogs run wild). I am eternally frustrated when I take him to the ON LEASH park to find most dogs running wild OFF LEASH! So hard to train a puppy/young dog and socialise them in the uncontrolled environment (which is why we choose the on leash park instead of the off). Would love to see the ranger there handing out fines for a change. I muzzle him sometimes but it just seems so cruel when he is happily walking on his lead and under control at all times so why should he be punished 🙁 Lock jaw is a myth but they do have ridiculous strength/pressure in their jaws. Water normally works a treat though! Maybe our dogs should meet up for a play date on their leads and socialise!

Pokerface Pokerface 4:23 pm 26 Jul 11

Thanks for all the constructive help here. I have to say I was expecting more ‘you’ve got a dangerous dog’ comments but it’s great to see so many understanding dog owners.

Rebcart, thanks for the advice about breaking up a dogfight. I was so stupid and got my hands in there and tried to break it up. I then looked on line and saw all the damage I could have been in for and will never do that again!

Koalathebear, thanks for the links. I’ve got the guy from Dogtech bringing his boxer around on the weekend and we’ll see how we go from there. I admit, I’m already anxious about her being around other dogs, and he tells me that this anxiety is only making it worse! So looks like I have some stuff to work out myself!

rebcart rebcart 8:50 am 26 Jul 11

I agree with the others – obedience training can help her get over fear by being in a situation where she doesn’t have to worry about the other dogs around, going to an off-leash dog park probably not so good unless it’s only small dogs or you’re sure you can defend your dog.

I also agree that you shouldn’t muzzle your dog, because she’s not inherently aggressive and needs a chance to defend yourself.

If your dog (or any dog for that matter) gets into a fight do NOT try to separate them by hand! You’ll be much more likely to get hurt yourself! Instead, carry a solid wooden stick with you on walks, and if your dog latches on – wiggle that stick in between your dog’s jaws. Once it’s all the way through, you can use it as a lever, and the dog’s grasp will transfer to the stick and off the other dog.

Henry82 Henry82 11:36 pm 25 Jul 11

Widdershins said :

I think it *is* a good idea to see someone if your dog is now showing sign of aggression on walks (sorry Henry82) .

‘showing aggression on walks’ and ‘showing aggression when attacked’ are two different things. imo this situation is the latter

koalathebear koalathebear 9:16 pm 25 Jul 11

Pokerface: I’m so sorry that this happened to you – it can be really traumatic. dogzonline is a helpful website but to be honest, there’s no point posting there. You’ll just be told that this sort of thing shouldn’t be diagnosed over the Internet (which it probably shouldn’t) and that your poor dog has issues that need to be addressed and that you should speak to a behaviourist. With things like this, it’s not possible to ‘fix’ them by just using a muzzle/halti etc. I also recommend that you don’t go to crowded dog parks and other places with dogs until you’ve been able to manage your dog’s behaviour. Socialisation is very important but there’s no point forcing your dog back into a stressful situation before its ready.

One of the most well-regarded behaviourists around who frequently works with dogs that other people give up on is Steve Courtney from K9Pro in Sydney:
steve@k9pro.com.au
http://www.k9pro.com.au/

This case was impressive: http://www.k9pro.com.au/pages/DJ-the-Black-Lab-vs.-Granny.html. He owns GSDs but works with all kinds of dogs. He’s the man who is rehabilitating Buster, the ‘vicious’ GR who you might have heard about in the news: http://www.k9pro.com.au/news/20/Pet-dog-supposedly-mauls-four%3F.html. He is also a very nice guy and very generous with his time and there’s permanent follow-up by email if you choose.

Closer to home is Heike Hahner
CANINE COMMUNICATIONS
Dog Training & Behaviour Consulting
hhahner@bigpond.com
Phone: 02 4842 7143
http://heike.braidwoodnsw.com/about-us.htm

She frequently travels to Canberra for consults and she is extremely generous with her time. She, too doesn’t give up on dogs easily and from memory she has an aggro JRT that ended up with her because it’s unmanageable with other people. I wish you all the best!

gertel gertel 8:30 pm 25 Jul 11

I agree with CHW – the dog park will only make it worse. I can recommend Andina Faragher who runs Thinking Dog and also works for the RSPCA.

Your dog sounds frightened, not aggressive. Fight or flight.. and there’s no where to go on a lead. Muzzling would only make her more defenseless.

TP 3000 TP 3000 8:11 pm 25 Jul 11

Now this technique works best if you are male, I am not being sexiest but that’s the way the animal see things.

A few months back I had taken my older Samoyed to an off leash dog park in Canberra & he was saying hello to other dogs. Now one particular Husky didn’t like this & spun around very quickly, stood his ground & growled at my dog. My dog did the same thing (of course), now I’ve stepped in stood my ground & smashed my dogs chain link leash against a tree & yelled NO. The Husky backed right down (my dog did when I repeated my actions a second time). Now we have met that same Husky & have had no troubles, this Husky is still cranky towards any other dog though.

Of course during the first incident, the owner of the Husky was no where to be seen

CHW CHW 6:32 pm 25 Jul 11

Hosinator said :

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.

Ah, no – do NOT take your dog to the off-lead park after those experiences, you will only make it worse, if she meets up with a hyper brat of a dog whose owner has no clue that they need to CONTROL their dog.

Instead, there are three dog obedience clubs in Canberra, plus one in Queanbeyan. If you would like to message me, I can give you more info on how these clubs may help.

CHW CHW 6:26 pm 25 Jul 11

To be honest, the best forum to ask this question in would be Dogz Online:

http://www.dolforums.com.au/forum/9-training-obedience-dog-sports/

And yes – get a muzzle from the new pet store on Barrier street, they have muzzles specifically for SBTs.

And no, lockjaw per se does not exist, but the bull breeds were developed to grab and hold on til the death – this is where the myth comes from.

But there is no physical “lock” that happens.

Widdershins Widdershins 5:24 pm 25 Jul 11

I think it *is* a good idea to see someone if your dog is now showing sign of aggression on walks (sorry Henry82) – regardless of the fact it was not your dog who started the fights, your staffy is now dealing with the fallout.

We had a bad experience with our dog at a kennel and she was never the same, although Dogtech have helped tremendously (we waited a long time before getting help though, and we shouldn’t have as it just made things harder).

Henry82 Henry82 4:34 pm 25 Jul 11

tbh i wouldnt muzzle your dog, id be making a complaint about the other dog. Thats twice their dog off its leash has attacked yours which is rediculous. I’m sure a $400 fine would be enough of a reminder to keep their dog on a leash.

i wouldnt bother with training etc, its not your dog that is causing the trouble. Put it this way, if you were getting punched in the face, would you fight back? (“flight” isnt an option on a leash).

If the aggressive dog now has puncture marks, they’ll have to take it to the vet, which means they’ll have a financial lesson for letting their dog off the leash.

Hosinator 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

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