Just wanted to get some advice, I have a working line gsd, father is from the West and mother is from the East. He has a lot of prey drive but is always under control with either his prong collar and a leash or e-collar and/or a leash if need be. He has gone through a lot of training for his e-collar and is great off leash with it. We have a dog park and open space near our home and while I would love to be able to take him to the dog park it is just too crazy as far as dog temperaments, owners, and the fact that 90% of the dogs I have seen there have no recall. The open space is great and we run through it and then also take the old lab out for walks.
The reason I am looking at a muzzle for the slower walks is there are a number of other dogs along the trail. Usually when we are walking and another dog is coming up I'll have him in a heel or depending on how the other dog is reacting I my let him have a quick sniff or just keep walking by the other dogs with no interaction. The incident that has me looking at a muzzle is my wife and I sometimes take our neice with us which really slows walking down so there is more time for dogs to interact potentially. A week back we were walking with my niece and my lab and GSD, both were off leash and ahead of us sniffing around and just being typical dogs. Coming down the trail is a man with his lab who is also off leash.
So fast forward our lab, Cody, who is 11 y/o, has cancer all over so is slowing down but is pretty hardy and gets excited when he meets other dogs but is super mellow and friendly so we let him meet most dogs along the trail. Once the man and is dog coming towards us get close enough I put Gunner my GSD in a heel and let Cody say hi. The lab runs up and usually they will do their standoff with tails wagging and ears perked up sniff butts and then go on. But this man's lab runs up his hackles raise and he starts growling at Cody who does his does his playful stance but then just moves on and ignores the other lab that's growling at him. When the lab started growling at cody I feel Gunner tense and lock on to him while heeling at my side so i put him in a down right next to me. The owner calls his lab after he starts growling and the dog leaves Cody and walks past us with the owner. Then unknown to us the lab flips back around and comes toward me and Gunner who is in a down next to me. I don't realize the dog came back until too late and we are still in a down because our niece is playing with her stroller trying to push it. The man is still walking forward and once he realizes his dog isn't with him starts yelling for his lab to come, the lab ignores him and slows once he is near us. Mind you at this point I am facing the opposite way as the man who walked past me, Gunner is in a down on my left looking forward and this man's dog comes from behind and to my right at which point the man yells that his dog is friendly while also still trying to get him to recall...On approach his hackles raise and he reaches to sniff Gunner, I tell him to be easy which is our command to relax when on and off leash and stay to enforce his down, I don't really have a choice cause the dog kinda snuck up on us and I didn't want to make a big scene that would potentially escalate a situation.... Then the lab starts growling and in an instant Gunner lunges for the other the dog, he grabs his cheek at which point they are about 5' away, I tell him no and leave it and he complies by releasing the dog and moving away then I tell him to come and heel so he comes back to my side while the other owner still can't get his dog to listen so he runs up and grabs his lab before he comes back.
The man looks over his dog and says he has a small puncture on his cheek to which i say something along the line that if your dog won't listen to you and growls randomly at other dogs along the trail he probably shouldn't be off leash. My wife ask him if he's ok and and if his dogs ok and we offer to give him our number but he refuses and we both go off on our separate ways.
So after that i am thinking about getting a muzzle for these slow walks or walks in areas with lots of other off leash dogs. Seeing as I can't really control other people's dogs I'd rather have a safe guard so if it were to happen again there wouldn't be any damage.
I don't think having him on leash would have changed anything because the puncture was from the initial lunge, so what could I have done differently? Was I in the wrong and Gunners training lacking because he broke his down/stay when the dog started growling?
I also don't know if this is dumb or naive of me so please tell me if it is but I don't expect him to stay there and do nothing in that situation because that dog could have easily been growling at my niece or wife.
So after that long winded explanation of what led me to looking at muzzles do people have a recommendation for a comfortable muzzle that won't hurt Gunner or impede his breathing? I have mainly been looking at leather muzzles, specifically at:
- Leerburg police style leather basket weave
- Ray Allen agitation muzzle or leather basket muzzle
- Hortons sport/police agitation muzzle
Any advice or 2¢ will be appreciated!
The world these days just amazes me! Your dog behaved perfectly, the other guy's dog came up growling and he reacted! I'm not sure what you or your dog "should" have done differently, but what if that dog had gone after you or your niece, would you really want your dog muzzled and vulnerable in that situation? If that guy doesn't want his dog's neck further perforated (by other dogs he meets in that fashion) he should up his training or keep him on a leash! At least that's how I'd look at it.
Gunner did good and the other dog was in his space growling from what i gather. Yeah, maybe gunner jumped the gun a bit, but hey he was in a down being a good boy, undoubtedly he felt something not right and warned the other dog to back off, he did leave it and obey you. That's a well trained dog, sounds to me. Please don't muzzle him. Most i would do is keep him leashed to me on the slow walks so as also to see how he will do after this episode.
Honestly plenty of dogs can have a little scrap and not leave a puncture wound. Your GSD does not sound like a dog who should be walking where dogs are running offleash. If this happens again but your dog is wearing a muzzle, he won't hurt the other dog but it will contribute to his issues, he will just get in a muzzle fight and not to mention what that will look like to passersby, and GSD in a muzzle having a scrap with another dog?
You are saying the guy with the other dog should have done better but I have to say you have a responsibility too-- your dog is not going to let things slide and there are going to be a lot of dogs doing stupid things in a place like you described. I think you should just walk the old lab there and take your GSD elsewhere or only bring the GSD when you are not distracted and can prevent a fight from occurring. I think you said the GSD was "locked on" the growly dog well before the confrontation. This probably contributed too.
In my opinion you should have immediately physically intercepted the incoming dog while simultaneously reminding your dog to stay in the down--- but the way you describe it you were all way too close for safety at that point which is why I say don't walk this dog with this niece when you are too distracted to manage him properly
In a situation like this it is EXTREMELY important not to turn your back on the approaching dog. They think that means you've surrendered, and may sneak up behind you to renew the attack.
I've got scars from a farm dog who did exactly that to me!
I think Gunner behaved very well, is well-trained, and did everything you could expect of him!
Except that he defended himself appropriately when he felt he had to - ( my dog does, as well, and I am ok with that. My dog will meet attacking offleash dogs with a growl and a lunge, teeth to teeth, and I am on his side. )
re the other owner: if his large dog has growled at other dogs and ignores your recall sometimes, why the heck would he let him offleash?!! That is just asking for trouble. Or maybe it was the first time his dog ever growled at another dog? But I doubt it.
re Gunner: it is good to keep in mind though, that you know now...he is not the kind that will growl/bark and posture - he is the kind that may do a swift lunge and bite - so that is harder to handle than a dog that growls and gives a lot of warnings.
re Down: I think it's great that he obeys you so well! I wonder - does having him in a down with a large growling dog nearby, increase his tension? Perhaps if he were free to move (on leash) then he would have growled and circled around instead of going straight for a bite.
IF you are muzzle shopping (I guess it's good to have one around just in case) - I trained my dog to wear a basket muzzle (Baskerville) and I use it for vet visits. I like it because it's lightweight, easy to wash, he can pant, he can drink, he can eat treats. It's not leather, it's plastic - but I feel like that helps with keeping it clean and non-smelly. ( You can do things like smear peanut butter on the inside, and easily wipe it off/wash it. )
I also agree that I don't think Gunner needs a muzzle for every outing! But live and learn - you know how he is likely to react, now, so be on guard against situations that could trigger it. ( For instance, I learned (the hard way) not to let people reach out to pet my dog on the head. )
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