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muzzle or no muzzle

Beetlecat
November 26th, 2005, 04:34 PM
My dog (neutered blue heeler) will sometimes (not always) lunge at and try to nip people on the ankles. He has also been known to bark suddenly and sharply at them. He has never hurt anyone and is not dangerous, but this is upsetting to them and to me and is unacceptable in the city.

I'm quite sure this is a guarding/protection behaviour enhanced by his heeling instincts. He is also like this in the country, but there it does not matter, as his is never leashed or in close confines with strangers.

I now have to decide between: a) muzzleing him when we go out on-leash and then train him to be tolerant of people while muzzled.

or b) no muzzle and train him first near but not close to people and slowly close the distance until he is tolerant right beside them.

He is only aggressive while being exercised on-leash. I would love to hire a personal trainer, but that is simply not an option. Neither is segreggating him from people for this whole life. I was going to wait it out, but I'm getting tired and just want this behaviour to stop.

(and please no cracks about how I should have realized that nipping is what heelers do. I did realize and I love him and am very willing to work with him. I just want thoughts on the best way to do so. Thanks)

papillonmama
November 26th, 2005, 06:05 PM
My lil doggy has same problem, most aggravating! I've been trying to get her to meet as many people and dogs on leash as I can. I tell her she's a good dog when she doesn't act out. I practice in the backyard on a long training leash, I get the kids and friends to walk around, come from behind or walk towards us. She's slowly getting better.
I also tell her to "come to my side" where she sits beside me, if I see her getting overwhelmed.
You can use a muzzle, but I would still socialize him.

PetFriendly
November 27th, 2005, 07:21 PM
I wouldn't keep him away from people, that's only going to make it worse. Like papillonmama suggested find yourself a command word that is basically going to mean, 'get back over near me, look at my face and let me deal with it'. Having really great treats in your pocket will help once he's back at your side to make up for not being able to nip. If you're really worried, try the muzzle along with the training.

Beetlecat
November 29th, 2005, 10:19 PM
So I went and bought a muzzle and we went for our first walk with it on today.

To anyone else in my shoes, I have to admit that, so far, I really like it. It's a huge load off my back now that there is no chance of him scaring or nipping anyone.

We even passed a group of folks while going up the stairs of the pedestrian overpass and I just shortened his leash and walked past them. We were within a foot of each other, I could not have done that before.

And while on the overpass, another person appeared. I had Ky sit/stay and the person just walked on by with no problem. Only two days ago, I would probably held KY's collar in a death grip, so he could not move to nip. And that (tightening leash, acting faerful or worried, etc) is totally the wrong thing to do, but I didbn't really have a choice before. Now I can let him interact or walk by people, with no worries.

Obviously I am still going to train him but the muzzle is a good step forward as it lets me loosen up a bit, which puts him at ease too.

And as a bonus, now, while we are on walks, he cannot eat things he finds on the ground, untie my shoelaces by grabbing them with his mouth, or jump up and tug on my coat. lol.

papillonmama
November 30th, 2005, 09:31 AM
Now that you're not so nervous, your dog has obviously picked up on that and doesn't need to worry about protecting you.
I think when you were holding him back he was worried that there was something wrong and so he would lash out, trying his very best to keep you safe.

Beetlecat
November 30th, 2005, 11:07 AM
Now that you're not so nervous, your dog has obviously picked up on that and doesn't need to worry about protecting you.
I think when you were holding him back he was worried that there was something wrong and so he would lash out, trying his very best to keep you safe.

Yes, as I mentioned, I realized that. But, before the muzzle, I really had no other option.

He did jump on one of the guys who passed us on the stairs - but I can't say if it was a mean-spirited jump or not as he was pretty exicted at the time.

So far his behaviour has not really changed, I am just free to let him show me how well behaived he can be :)