Wear a muzzle? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-18-2008, 01:51 PM Thread Starter
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Wear a muzzle?

I've been working with Sierra for about a month now. I got her
a basket muzzle, and worked up from just a few minutes to now
about 45 minutes of wearing. She will down/stay in the living room
while I'm watching tv, she will actually lay on her side and fall
asleep, so I think she's more comfortable with it. I give her lots of
"Good girls" and tummy rubs and that's all fine.

The problem comes if I try to walk her anywhere with it on or do
anything besides her just lying there. She seems to think she's
being punished. I don't take it off until she's been a few minutes
without pawing at it, and of course good girls who wear their
muzzles get cookies afterward, she loves that, lots of tail
wagging etc.

My questions are: How do I increase the time and add in walking
on leash OR off and how do I get her to not think she's being
punished? I might be able to give really small treats through the
spaces in the muzzle, not sure.

Thanks.

Valerie

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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-18-2008, 01:56 PM
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Re: Wear a muzzle?

can I ask why you need to have her in a muzzle?

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-18-2008, 02:09 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Wear a muzzle?


Sure... it's for potential playdates... she has shown some fear
aggression and since she's adopted and I don't know her history
for her first 5 1/2 years, I want to be a little more comfortable
if/when I take her somewhere. Depending on her actions and
my comfort level, the muzzle could come off at some point.

Valerie

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-18-2008, 02:22 PM
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Re: Wear a muzzle?

good parenting!!!
I wish I could give you some advice
I am sure you will get some good advice

Dawn
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-18-2008, 05:20 PM
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Re: Wear a muzzle?

Val, can you take her somewhere that's protected where she'll be distracted from the muzzle? What I'm thinking is if you have perhaps a local park (esp one with a fenced in baseball field) or even a big fieldy vacant lot area (are there any more of those left in Sonoma?) that isn't too frequently used. You drive her there. Then leash her up and put the muzzle on her right before you let her out of the car. If she's really excited to be on a "walk," she might not even really notice the muzzle too much.

(Especially if you have any fields/trails with rabbits, squirrels, etc that will provide instant distractions.) The muzzle just becomes something else, like the leash, that she has to wear when she's out. Not something she's thrilled with, but something she can tolerate well enough, and perhaps even, in time, something that she gets excited when she sees it because it means fun things are in store for her.

Does that (in spite of the run on sentences) make sense?

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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-18-2008, 05:27 PM
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Re: Wear a muzzle?

The only time that Cookie's had to wear a muzzle is when we used to take her to the groomer's to trim her nails. She never growled at them or anything, but she'd cower, try to slip away during the trimming, and basically act nervous. They put a muzzle on her to prevent any fear biting.
Sorry to ramble on about that.
I now generally trim her nails myself, but some things got moved around while the house was being cleaned, so I've lost the nail clippers now.
I recommend associating the muzzle with positive things like you have been doing. Use a normal and calm voice while she's wearing the muzzle and she will eventually get used to it.

~Tiffany
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-18-2008, 10:58 PM
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Re: Wear a muzzle?

I'm sorry that Cookie had to wear a muzzle when she was only acting nervous. Lets just make the whole fear situation a little worse, shall we?
Bummer for you and Cookie.
Personally can't stand it when a GSD dog comes into my office and evryone runs to find restraint.
Perhaps Val and Sierra can become comfortable with each other before adding the muzzle? Do you have anyone with a non reactive dog that perhaps you can go on walks with? Perhaps a head collar? It would control her mouth if she tried anything.
I have not a lot of expirence with muzzles, but I have trained my dogs to head collars. A bit like deep sea fishing, the first time! Everytime I put it on, it's because we're going out somewhere great! Like a walk, or McDonald's (For forbidden chicken McNuggets!) My dogs(at least most of them) see the head collar and think "I'm going to work! Lets go!) It takes a bunch of really short trips before evryone is in tune. Good luck! I hope you find that you don't need her muzzle after all when she becomes confident in her friendship with you!

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-18-2008, 11:10 PM
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Re: Wear a muzzle?

Quote:
Originally Posted By: BJDimockI'm sorry that Cookie had to wear a muzzle when she was only acting nervous. Lets just make the whole fear situation a little worse, shall we?
Bummer for you and Cookie.
Yeah, it did bother me. I bet they wouldn't have muzzled my other dog had I brought him there no matter how nervous he got.

~Tiffany
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-18-2008, 11:39 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Wear a muzzle?

Thanks everyone.

I had thought of taking her for a walk but was avoiding it I guess
because of not wanting people to see a gsd in a muzzle. I might
have to re-think that.

I took her several times to the dog park (not a good place, I
know... but I wanted to test recall etc. in a fenced area) and she
was fine... but this was back in January before we had more
incidents of the aggression. (By the way it's towards strangers,
not really other dogs...)

I THINK she would be okay... but that's really not enough for me.
I talked to one of her original evaluators (gsd experienced) for
the SPCA, and said I was thinking I'd have to do constant
vigilance and she said that was exactly the phrase she would
have used. That "instinct trumps obedience".

I have found one person who seemed dog savvy and will give
Sierra treats when we see her, and Sierra is just fine with her,
gets excited to see her and gets ear scritches and pats. But
that's only one person, I can't seem to find any others that I
could ask. And I think it would be problematic trying to get
everyone on a large playdate to pass out treats...

Valerie

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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-20-2008, 12:38 AM
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Re: Wear a muzzle?

Valerie, can you find a training class around there that has an instructor who understands and is willing to work with you?

We have what we call "Levels" classes here. They're obedience classes that are set up in levels and you work in a level until you're ready to go to the next one. They're on-going classes that meet every week, and you just work at your own speed and move on when you and the instructor decide it's time. Because they're ongoing classes and everyone works at their own speed, dogs/handlers rotate in and out of the various levels constantly and the classes tend to stay really small as people move through. So everyone gets a lot of one-on-one time.

This allows instructors to work on specific problems that dogs may have. When we get a dog in that has some sort of fear/aggression problem, we can have the handler take the dog to one side of the room and specifically work on rewarding for non-fearful, non-aggressive behaviors. As the class progresses, the handler can gradually move closer and have others in the class toss treats, etc. And if a person chooses to stay in, say, Level One for awhile, new people and dogs will rotate through and give some new distraction and experiences for the dog working on fear-based behaviors.

Taking her to a big class that meets for eight weeks and expects a certain level of accomplishment could be difficult for her and may even make her worse. But if you could find an instructor who will help evaluate her and then let you work on the outskirts of the class on the skills that YOUR dog needs (not basing those skills on what everyone else in the class is doing), that would probably help considerably. And then when she's ready to start meeting people, others in the class can become part of that in a controlled atmosphere.

I'd like to say that all instructors are open-minded enough for this, but so many are either too inexperienced or too set in their ways to allow this to happen. Even back when I taught eight-week classes, I always allowed people to work on specific problems if that's what they needed (instead of trying to do what the other dogs were doing). Dogs are individuals and trying to make every dog fit into the same lesson plan as all the other dogs is just ridiculous.

I hope you can find something appropriate. A good training class is priceless and would give you a safe atmosphere to work on Sierra's problems. Dogs with fears need to learn to see past the fears and that takes time, patience and understanding. From what you describe, I would accept Sierra into a class without a muzzle. If she had some problems with lunging at others, we might use an ex-pen barrier for awhile, but I tend to avoid muzzles if possible. In some cases I've seen muzzles actually end up increasing a dog's fear level (I think because the dog realizes it has no means of defense and therefore is more frightened). A truly aggressive dog would be a different thing - but a fear-aggressive dog primarily needs to have confidence increased.

Good luck!

Melanie and the gang in Alaska

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