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Albert
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Albert is a two year old, neutered, half Belgian malinois (mom was a boxer/Aussie mix). He missed most socializing because of COVID, and he and I have spent 90% of his life together. He is mostly friendly but protective if you come to our porch, he and I are in the car together (God help the guy who walked up to ask for a dollar), you walk up behind us, or (and especially) if you reach for us without his permission. He will nip at a hand with not much warning. This is the problem.

Our trainer suggested muzzle training, using a box muzzle. I see that seems to be standard on here. My husband is opposed, saying it makes him seem bad, takes away his defenses, people deserve it, etc. Also Albert's face is shaped funny and they seem huge on his stubby nose (see pic).
Dog Plant Green Dog breed Vehicle registration plate


Would something like this work instead?


Thank you,
Marquette
 

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The Nerd Herder
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That muzzle will not prevent the dog from biting. A basket muzzle is really your only option for actual bite prevention.

I would suggest finding a good trainer familiar with working breeds. This is a problem that is managed with a muzzle and solved by training.
 

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Albert
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That muzzle will not prevent the dog from biting. A basket muzzle is really your only option for actual bite prevention.

I would suggest finding a good trainer familiar with working breeds. This is a problem that is managed with a muzzle and solved by training.
Thank you, I figured as much. We have started with a trainer, she suggested a box muzzle as a "tool in the toolbox" for high risk situations, like going into town, while we work on training. Apparently, the "I NEED SPACE" signage on his leash does not outweigh people's need to stick their hands toward him.

M
 

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He needs some serious training and you need to have much more control over him. A good basket muzzle like a Ray Allen fitted tightly will prevent an actual bite but will not do anything to correct the behavior. The muzzle that you posted WILL NOT work safely. That would be dangerous. Dogs can still be aggressive in muzzles.
 

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You need to get on the same page with your husband. People do not deserve to be bitten by your dog. Your dog should be sternly corrected for inappropriate aggression and someone reaching out to you or walking behind you is not acceptable. It seems your husband is part of the issue.
My husband is opposed, saying it makes him seem bad, takes away his defenses, people deserve it, etc
If that is his belief, leave the dog at home. I would not put a dog in a situation that you are clearly not able to handle and have someone get bit. The one that will suffer is your dog when Animal Control responds. If your dog reacts aggressively for no reason he is badly behaved, it is pretty simple. What defense does your dog need on a walk in town? Your are his defenses and right now you are putting him in situations where he will be defenseless by your husband's attitude.

Until you get with a seriously good trainer that can handle aggressive dogs, do not put your dog in "high risk" situations. Going into town with a pet dog is not a high risk situation and if you view it as one, leave the dog home. Until you have some serious control over this dog, you will only make things worse. Your dog needs to understand that barking, growling or trying to bite anyone while on a walk is completely unacceptable and there should be some very serious consequences for such bad behavior.
 

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Thank you, I figured as much. We have started with a trainer, she suggested a box muzzle as a "tool in the toolbox" for high risk situations, like going into town, while we work on training. Apparently, the "I NEED SPACE" signage on his leash does not outweigh people's need to stick their hands toward him.

M
My dog was very, very shy and people reaching at her and touching her uninvited, in spite of me trying to stop them, eventually pushed her to the point where she was snapping at people.
For several years I put a muzzle on her whenever we left the property, because I needed to work on the problem and I would not risk a bite. The city I was living in was populated by people who thought touching strange dogs was their right.

Your husband is correct about a couple of points, people need to quit thinking touching and grabbing strange dogs is acceptable. I would like to agree that a lot of them need to get bit but I don't like her putting strange people in her mouth. I have no idea where they have been.
I got a lot of ignorant comments about the muzzle, to which I always replied "she wouldn't need it if people would keep their hands to themselves"
Ultimately, while it wouldn't hurt my feelings if some rude people got bit I would not want my dog to suffer the consequences which is really what it comes down to.
The upside to a basket muzzle is that they can pant, drink and take treats while wearing it. Whether or not you decide to use it on walks it is a great thing to accustom your dog to and keep around. My dog thinks of it as no different then her leash or collar, some people take time to condition their dogs to it but I just put it on and go. I guess it depends on the dog although none of my previous dogs got any real conditioning on it either.
 

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@Jiniwrenna on a very positive note. This is normally not a very hard problem to fix. With the proper training and management you can make your dog a safe, easy to handle and reliable dog. While we generally can not change temperament, we can modify behavior. I do not think it would take all that much effort with a good trainer to modify your dog's behavior. However, if he was my dog I would learn to read his body language and be ever vigilant when out in public. I've done this very successfully with several aggressive dogs. I just refuse to give up and put the effort in. Then end result is very rewarding and your dog will be all the better for it.
 

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Albert
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you all for this advice, it's truly helpful and I appreciate it. @Slamdunc, thank you for giving me hope. I will say Albert is pretty shy really, and we regularly go on walks where he does great, his reactivity is very situational.

For example, the other day we were on a busy section of the Appalachian Trail. We passed 100-150 people and lots of "doodles". We would go 5-10 feet off the trail, sit, wait, eat snacks until they passed by (new trainer says to watch body language and do this so Albert feels comfortable). We also greeted some folks I knew, had some pets. If the trail was wide enough, we would walk past people without interacting.

Then we get to a tight spot, incised trail maybe 4 feet wide and 3 feet deep, shrubbed in on both sides. A couple comes up around a bend, we're going down - I ask them to wait and let me get him over. NO WORRIES! WE LOVE DOGS! They keep coming, my heart starts racing. There's no where to go, so I pull him in as tight a heel as I possibly can - but, she comes up on the same side as him, reaches down to pet his head. Albert bares his teeth and air snaps (no contact but it scares her). It also scares her husband on the other side of us who yells, jumps up on the bank and throws his hands in the air, making himself huge compared to us. This scares Albert. The switch flips and Albert goes into full on bark and lunge mode. He felt trapped and scared (and I was scared).

I will fully admit that I do not have a lot of dog training experience, I did not know he was a half-mal when we rescued him as a baby, and the only thing I know to do is pull him away. No trainer so far has showed me how to handle this or how to give him a correction - it's all been more about avoidance of situations and building positive experiences.

I get past them, girl's fine...dog's fine. I wake up in a cold sweat later, thinking about what could have happened. A muzzle, at least, would let me know in that 1/100 encounter, he won't get hurt or hurt someone. At least until he's trained. I am 100% committed to doing whatever I need to do to make him a reliable companion.

Thank you again (and hopefully my husband was just venting about people getting bit),
M~
 

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Thank you all for this advice, it's truly helpful and I appreciate it. @Slamdunc, thank you for giving me hope. I will say Albert is pretty shy really, and we regularly go on walks where he does great, his reactivity is very situational.

For example, the other day we were on a busy section of the Appalachian Trail. We passed 100-150 people and lots of "doodles". We would go 5-10 feet off the trail, sit, wait, eat snacks until they passed by (new trainer says to watch body language and do this so Albert feels comfortable). We also greeted some folks I knew, had some pets. If the trail was wide enough, we would walk past people without interacting.

Then we get to a tight spot, incised trail maybe 4 feet wide and 3 feet deep, shrubbed in on both sides. A couple comes up around a bend, we're going down - I ask them to wait and let me get him over. NO WORRIES! WE LOVE DOGS! They keep coming, my heart starts racing. There's no where to go, so I pull him in as tight a heel as I possibly can - but, she comes up on the same side as him, reaches down to pet his head. Albert bares his teeth and air snaps (no contact but it scares her). It also scares her husband on the other side of us who yells, jumps up on the bank and throws his hands in the air, making himself huge compared to us. This scares Albert. The switch flips and Albert goes into full on bark and lunge mode. He felt trapped and scared (and I was scared).

I will fully admit that I do not have a lot of dog training experience, I did not know he was a half-mal when we rescued him as a baby, and the only thing I know to do is pull him away. No trainer so far has showed me how to handle this or how to give him a correction - it's all been more about avoidance of situations and building positive experiences.

I get past them, girl's fine...dog's fine. I wake up in a cold sweat later, thinking about what could have happened. A muzzle, at least, would let me know in that 1/100 encounter, he won't get hurt or hurt someone. At least until he's trained. I am 100% committed to doing whatever I need to do to make him a reliable companion.

Thank you again (and hopefully my husband was just venting about people getting bit),
M~
I'm not a professional trainer. Just a pet owner of a fearful dog that has reacted similarly in her younger years.

Things I noted in your story: You got nervous, fearful of what might happen yourself. You didn't realize you were sending that signal straight down the leash to your dog when you pulled him quickly and tightly. I understand in the moment it's what came instinctively. Albert read that as "Mom is afraid...these must be scary or dangerous people...I must react" and Albert did. I have done all the things you have done in similar situations. Got the same reaction.

Get the muzzle. It will not only will prevent a bite it will also give you peace of mind so you can be more relaxed in these situations and work the problem with confidence. Your confidence in being able to control these situations is just as important as Albert learning how to behave appropriately in the same.
Up your assertiveness with strangers. Sure be polite but don't be afraid to hurt their feelings if you have to.
"No worries we love dogs"....My response to that is a firm strong voice ...."My dog "DOESN'T like strangers"

Another tool my trainer gave me was when space was tight on a trail/path was to put my dog in a sit as far to the side as possible and place yourself facing your dog with your back to the trail. Use your body to block the dogs view of the passers by and maintain your dogs focus ( I also use stay and leave it with this). Funny thing when you turn your back on people they tend to get the idea you are not interested in interacting with them pretty quickly. With luck they also tend to move by with a little more haste. Once passers are a safe range away. Praise good behavior and matter of factly move on with your walk like it was nothing unusual. In time it becomes a stay on the trail with a "leave it" as people pass by to eventually just being able to walk past. I will say with my dog I always had to move off the trail or employ the blocking sit when other dogs were involved in tight spaces. People letting their dogs take the full leash into my dogs space was never anything that was going to work. It is manageable though.
 

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Albert
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Springbrz, your first two paragraphs sum up SO very much. Literally, every "bad" encounter we've had has been when I'm nervous. I don't know how he knows, but he always knows. And I'm learning to advocate for Albert by saying "No" to people when they approach. It's not something that comes naturally for sure.

We did clicker/treat training yesterday, he did great! I even saw him mentally stop himself from jumping at a jogger/dog combo, lol.

We did get the muzzle, hubby frowns on it, but he doesn't get a vote, really. Albert is my boy, so again, I'm advocating for what I know is best.

I truly did not understand how many things about patience, perservence, confidence, and communication this dog had to teach me. But, we'll get there... :)
 
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